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Google has released a redesigned version of its Google News site to English-language users in the U.S. This new avatar focuses on presenting news stories happening around the world and locally in a way that is more customizable and user-centric.

The intent of creating the new look is to feature news items tailored to individual users. The “News for you” section is the biggest addition in this area and displays stories in a section or list view based on users’ specified interests in topics like Business, Sports or their own preferred subject matters.

The Google News now includes a feature that enables users to select which news sources they would like to see more or less often, so you can get your custom news update daily! Settings can be tweaked in the News Settings section for sources on stories based on users’ personal tastes.

The right-hand column of Google News has also been overhauled to serve as a place for locally focused, breaking news and less time-sensitive content. Here users will find recent stories, local weather and local news.


Whether you’re new to Facebook or an old hat, the magnitude of features and functionality in the enormous social network can still be somewhat daunting. From personal profiles to brand pages and applications to groups, there’s a lot to get up to speed on — and even an expert might have occasion to want a primer on one of the lesser-travelled corners now and then.

Mashable has put  together a collection of some of our best resources, how-tos and guides to help individuals, businesses, organizations and non-profits get the most out of your experiences on FacebookFacebook. Similar to the Twitter Guide Book before it, this single hub is intended as a one-stop shop for building your mastery and getting more out of the world’s most popular social network.

From managing information overload in your feed to finding worthy Facebook applications to best practices for brand-building, the Facebook Guide Book is chock full of tips and tricks to help improve your Facebook experience. We hope everyone from beginner to advanced users will find something of value in the resources we’ve collected; and we’ll continue to cultivate and maintain this space as Facebook itself continues to grow and change.

And if you find something of interest in The Facebook Guide Book, we hope you’ll consider passing it on to someone who might enjoy it as well. Happy learning!

It’s the end of the year, traditionally a time for self-reflection. While many of us are making our New Year’s resolutions and looking back on what we accomplished, a lot of social media companies are sifting through their data and sharing what was hot in 2009.

YahooBingTwitter and Facebook have already revealed their top searches and most-discussed trends and stories of 2009. While social media giant Digg has yet to release such a list, it did recently launch a tool called Digg 365, which summarizes the top stories for every day, month and year on Digg since 2005.

With the information on the social media tool’s most dugg stories at our fingertips, we decided to figure out what diggers cared about most. Thus, we uncovered the top 10 stories for Digg in 2009. While some match top trends on Twitter,Facebook and others (e.g. Barack Obama’s election, Michael Jackson’s death), other stories were decidedly humor only Diggers can truly understand.

Being on Twitter and using Twitter are two very different things. In august this year Mashable reported that large number of Fortune 100 companies have taken to Twitter. But are they really using it? A study released today (PDF) by Weber Shandwick says the answer is not positive, and that the majority of Fortune 100 companies don’t really get Twitter. Though 73 of 100 companies had at least one registered Twitter account (up from 54 reported in an unrelated study released in August), the majority of them are not using Twitter effectively to engage their followers, weren’t tweeting often, and didn’t display any personality in their tweets, according to the study.

Low engagement of followers seems to be a reason for the ineffectiveness of Fortune 100. Out of the 540 total Twitter accounts registered by Fortune 100 companies, 50 percent of the accounts had fewer than 500 followers and another 15 percent weren’t being used at all. Twitter is more about the personality of the brand the user; not the brand/product alone! Out of the 540 accounts, 53 percent “did not display personality, tone or voice on their account pages,” according to the report, which judged personality based on whether an account was identified with a personality who posted on behalf of the company or if it was a “faceless” brand account. A real name to an account adds much higher credibility and a human face.

However, 32 percent did have personalities that were associated with their accounts, which might be a better approach to creating an account that is engaging and personable for consumers. Personality can also be demonstrated on Twitter via the writing of the actual tweets. Though tweeting sparingly can be a good thing, 76 percent of the accounts had fewer than 500 tweets posted.

The most popular use of Twitter from companies using it, is as a newsfeed or for developing brand awareness. But companies seem not to understand how to use the service to increase sales or they don’t believe that it’s possible. Though Dell (33 on Fortune 100 list) has used Twitter to sell millions of dollars worth of products, only 16 percent of Fortune 100 accounts used Twitter for sales, special Twitter offers, coupons or other special offers.

Another effective use for businesses has been using Twitter for customer service. For It very well may be that these companies are steering away from customer service because to do it effectively, they would need additional staff specifically to respond to complaints and questions from customers on Twitter.

When these companies do take a look at their strategy and use of social media, they need to realize that the key element missing is conversation. Twitter, and social media in general, is about two-way communication, which is something that all companies need to realize as they constantly evaluate and tweak their social media use. Companies should also reconsider whether to use a person that is identified with an account, which could improve their engagement and build a personable brand.

According to Adam Ostrow, If you’re wondering why half of the Twitter trends are currently related to US president Barack Obama, news broke recently that he has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

obama550The official site of the Nobel Foundation is dying under the sudden surge of traffic, but the list of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates has already been updated, as you can see in the screenshot below.

This is a somewhat surprising move by the Nobel Committee, since Barack Obama simply hasn’t had enough time to do all that he had set out to accomplish. Still, Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, claims that the prize was awarded based on Obama’s work so far. “We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what he has done in the previous year. We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do,” he said.

Twitter is currently overwhelmed with tweets related to the event, and is at times down, but it’s still holding on. Dozens of topics related to the award and Obama are currently extremely popular on Tweetmeme. If Twitter manages to go through this eventful day (NASA’s moon landing, as well as Miley Cirus quitting Twitter are also popular topics) without a meltdown, it’ll be quite an accomplishment.

Ask your kids one minute if they have to use the bathroom and the answer is “no.” The next minute, they’re doing the potty dance. SitOrSquat is a great app to have on your phone when you are out-and-about in an unfamiliar place and need to know where the closest public restroom is located.

sitorsquat-homepage-charmin.pngI and others of my ilk are most likely to get wound up about location-related mobile apps; these naturally often involve navigation for the  iPhone, not to mention other phones. But there’s a host of other apps providing all manner of location-based services beyond navigation. For example, if you’re out and about and nature calls, as it is wont to do, now you can use your iPhone to find a clean restroom — “restroom” being that quaint American euphemism for toilet.

Personally, I prefer the European term WC, or water closet. Whatever you prefer to call it, if you’re a fussy sort, public toilets can be a source of grave stress. If you fall into that category, then you need to download SitOrSquat.

According to Christina Warren, Just over a year old, the Google Chrome web browser is quickly evolving and turning into a lean, mean potentially IE-killing machine.

artist-chrome-themesLast month, Google released Chrome V3 and with it, the official debut of Chrome Themes. Chrome Themes offer an alternative look to your Chrome browser, very similar to the themes available in iGoogle, Gmail and Google Sites.

Today, the Official Google Blog has pointed out more than 100 new stylish additions by way of Google Chrome Artist Themes.

Well known artists and designers like Jonathan Adler, Kate Spade, Dolce & Gabbana, Kid Robot, Vivienne Westwood and Oscar de la Renta have all lent their style to Google Chrome.

According to Ben Parr, Google’s anticipated real-time communication platform launches in less than 24 hours. That’s right, we’re talking about Google Wave


What we already know: On September 30th, Google will send out 100,000 invites to Google Wave. Since it’s already September 30th in Australia (where the Google Wave team is located), that means the invites will flood inboxes very soon.

The communication tool incorporates real-time updates, wiki-style functionality, extensions, playback, and many more features in an attempt to redefine how we communicate. Some call it an email killer, others think it’s too ambitious for its own good.

Hopefully, heres to another revolutionary idea from the Google team

According to Eric Qualman , It’s good to see that someone (Microsoft) is pushing Google with their launch of Bing. However, while it has some social elements (most popular searches now, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn showing high in the results, etc.) it doesn’t push the envelope enough to give Google a legitimate run for their money.

search-market-share-by-engineIf Microsoft were able to improve upon and integrate their Live CashBack program functionality into Bing, then that would make it much stronger. I strongly believe that the next game changer in search will be:

  1. Integrating my social graph’s reviews/purchases around products/services.
  2. Ability to give some money back to the user for a search purchase/review.

Compete data showed the activity on Bing was a small blip the day it launched, but then it was back to business as usual: Google (73.2 percent) Yahoo (16.5 percent) Bing (5.7 percent). We’ll see if Microsoft’s planned $80 million to $100 million ad campaign has any affect. Television advertising didn’t help a few years back, and they even used monkeys.

So there is still time Bing’s real future get’s decided.

kindle-internationalKindle has always been important but some changes have taken place for the Amazon product. According to Barb Dybwad, Amazon just announced a couple of major developments for its digital book reader line: the Kindle will get a price cut from $299 to $259, and a new version of the device that can access wireless content internationally goes on sale today for $279.

The new device shares the same form factor as the current Kindle, but has the extra internal hardware needed to connect to AT&T’s global wireless network in over 100 countries including the U.S. Pre-orders begin today with a ship date of October 19.

The current Kindle has made use of Sprint’s cellular network to handle wireless connectivity for the device. The new partnership with AT&T to handle the international version of the device is surely a great boon to AT&T, who is getting slammed by customers and competitors alike for its 3G service in the U.S.

A price cut for flagship U.S.-only version of the Kindle comes at a strategic time, right before many gear up for the holiday shopping season. Many would-be customers have cited the high price of the device as being a limiting factor, and a bit more than 13% drop might sway a number of personal buyers and gift-givers alike.

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