Monthly Archives: July 2011

How to take incredible photos with your phone

Written by thenextweb

We recently discovered that the iPhone has become the most commonly used camera among Flickr users. Of course, there are photography purists who will say that taking a photo with your phone isn’t the same as using a sophisticated SLR camera, but the results speak for themselves. An improvement in the quality of camera phones, coupled with some great apps that really let you get creative, and you’d be amazed what kinds of photos you can take with your phone. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you.

We’ve put together a short list of guidelines to keep in mind when using your phone, along with some examples of great phone photography and iPhoneography.

Know your phone

Get used to your phone. If there’s a way to add a shortcut that lets you fire up the camera straight away, it’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss those quick photos that often pass you by. If you own an iPhone you can set your home button to act as a shortcut to launch the camera. Android users can use the appQikCam which acts as a shutter button sitting right on your home screen. Aside from opening the camera app, you should be familiar with how it works. Camera phones aren’t renowned for the their speed, so it’s best to know the shutter speed, and understand the exact moment the photo is taken.

Take note of your lighting

One of the most important things to consider when taking photos with your phone is lighting. Bad lighting will kill the best of pictures, even with a decent camera, so when taking portrait photos with your phone, make sure your subject is well lit. If you’re indoors, the photography rule of keeping the light to your back is just as important. Light behind your subject will only darken the image. And regardless of how good your lighting is, also make sure you hold your phone steady. The slightest shake could blur your image, and ruin what would have been the perfect picture. Some camera apps also aim to help counteract the effect of shaking. iPhone users can use Pro Camera, a fabulous $2.99 app which includes an Anti-Shake Image Stabilizer among many other features. Android users can opt for the popular app Camera 360 which features a similar stabilizer.

With street photography, be aware of your lighting, but you don’t necessarily have to follow the rules. Depending on the mood you’re aiming for, sometimes taking a photo facing directly into the sun, the photo filled with lens flare and all, can lead to a great photo like Alexander Kesselaar’s dreamlike photo shot with Hipstamatic:

Avoid using digital zoom

Digital zoom is deceiving, and some phones, like the Google Nexus S, don’t even come with the feature. In essence, all digital zoom does is enlarge the image rather than zoom in, and so it immediately becomes pixelated. If you can, it’s best to avoid using it, and instead simply move closer to your subject.

Consider composition

Think about your photo before you take it. Take the rule of thirds into consideration. Many camera apps on the iPhone, and on various android handsets, will place visible grid lines on your screen making it easy to visualize the image with the rule of thirds in mind. Placing the main subjects directly along the grid lines can often lead to a stronger composition, as the image below demonstrates.

Think about your background

A camera phone isn’t able to isolate the subject from the background. You have two options to deal with this. You can either go with less clutter, and make sure your subject is in front of a simple background, or simply fill the image with your subject. This is particularly important when it comes to portraits. There are other times you can throw this rule right out the window. With street photography, for example, a busy scene which fills up the screen can often make for a fascinating image.

Have an arsenal of apps on your phone

Not everyone will agree with this point, but sometimes applying a cool filter to an image can make it even better. There’s no limit to the number of great iPhone and Android apps that can enhance your photos. The most obvious example is Instagram, but other apps worth having on your phone include PicPlz, Molome,Hipstamatic and MoreLomo. Other than apps which let you apply interesting effects to your images, you can also install Dermandar, a nifty app for creating stunning panoramas.

A common and popular effect found in many phone apps, such as Instagram, is the tilt-shift effect, which gives photos a toy-like appearance. Duncan’s image from Flickr is a great example of how tilt-shift can really bring a photo to life.

Don’t limit yourself to one photo

There’s no reason to satisfy yourself with just one photo, and especially with a phone, you’re better to make several attempts at capturing the same image. That way you can be sure to avoid shake, blur, and any other issues that you’re likely to face.

Experiment and try new things

Don’t be afraid to try interesting angles. Sometimes playing around with angles can make an image look contrived, and other times, it just works. There’s no harm in experimenting and seeing if something works. Alexander Kesselaar‘s photo taken with an iPhone is an interesting example of what simply tilting your phone at an angle can get you:

Don’t go for the obvious shot. Some of the most common photos taken with phones include cloudy skies and telephone poles, your own shoes, and your cup of coffee. While that’s all good and well, there’s only so many of those you can take. Think outside the box. Go outside your comfort zone, and try something different. A great example of just how experimental you can get with your photography, using nothing more than a phone can be seen in Phillipe Boivin’s underwater photo taken with an iPhone.

Keep your lens clean

We don’t think twice about keeping our camera lenses clean, but can often forget to do the same with our phones. Finger smudges can easily affect the quality of your images. Using a microfiber polishing cloth is the best way to go about ensuring there are no smudges on your lens. Most smartphones come with a microfiber cloth to clean the screen, so you can also use them to clean off your lens. Don’t use a tissue as it could scratch your lens.

Accessories won’t hurt

Getting some accessories for your phone won’t hurt either, but they aren’t a must. If you’re in need of a flexible tripod to keep your phone steady, or get an interesting angle you wouldn’t otherwise reach, Joby’s GorillaMobile will keep your phone steady. PhotoJojo is a great source for fisheye, telephoto and wide angle lenses that you can mount on any cell phone. You can even get an iPhone SLR mount which will let you use your Canon and Nikon lenses on your iPhone giving you depth of field and manual focus using your phone. The mount, however, doesn’t come cheap at $249. That said, if you’re serious about your iPhoneography this could be a great addition to your accessories collection.

Some examples to get you inspired

If you’re still not completely convinced that you can get some pretty impressive images with your phone, we’ve dug up a few examples to help inspire you.

Fstoppers shot an entire fashion shoot with what they call the worst possible camera, the iPhone 3GS. The results can be seen in the Flickr album, which contains both the raw and edited images. Of course, as they say in their blog post, there is more to the photoshoot than just the camera:

“I created this video to simply show that you should not be limited by your camera. Obviously there was a lot that went into this shoot including a professional model, hair and makeup, a studio, lighting, and a retoucher. We may create another video in the future where we shoot with only natural light but this video is simply about the camera. There are so many photographers who are obsessed with noise, sharpness, color, dynamic range, megapixels, chromatic aberration, moire, distortion, etc. So many photographers get wrapped up in the technical side that they forget how to take compelling images. This video is for them.”

The image on the left is as it was taken with the iPhone, and the image on the right is the one that was processed.

Hipstamatic has been featured in Foreign Policy in a series of photographs taken as part of a photojournalism experiment at the front line in Afghanistan. So far there have been three sets published in the series, The War in Hipstamatic, Heavy Metal, and Female Engagement. This is a great example of what you can do without having to lug around a huge SLR camera and a bunch of lenses.

Professional examples aside, there are stunning photos on Flickr that have been taken with iPhones. A quick glance at the search results for iPhoneography should be enough inspiration to get you started.  And don’t forget to check out some of the top iPhone and Android photography apps out there.

Bonus: This is how I shop for groceries

11 most ridiculous Japanese ads with American celebs

Collected by cnn

The Internet is undeniably making the world smaller.

And while this is a great thing for friends trying to stay in touch years after moving away from each other, there’s a certain sect of people who must suffer while the rest of us thrive.

I’m talking, of course, about American celebrities who years ago starred in bizarre, unintentionally hilarious commercials in Japan (why Japan is the main purveyor of this advertising insanity, I have no idea), only to have the Internet unearth them for the whole planet to see.

Back in the mid-’80s or mid-’90s, the stars in question probably thought (while deviously twirling a thin mustache), “By golly, I can get my paws on a nice lump sum by shilling some Japanese libation over yonder, and people stateside will be none the wiser, see!”

But that easy money scheme was blown up thanks to the Internet (emphasis on the “thanks”). Now, those epilepsy-inducing commercials with our stars gleefully hamming it up have come to our shores, and we’re the ones reaping the rewards.

So when word spread recently that Tiger Woods had done a Japanese commercial, giddiness coursed through the veins of pop-culture watchers; we thought we’d see a lighter side of the number one 21 golfer. Unfortunately, it was a staid affair. It seems that even on the other side of the globe, Woods wouldn’t unleash the real Tiger (not a euphemism).

Alas, to wash away our disappointment with Tiger’s ad, here are the 11 most ridiculous Japanese ads featuring shouting, over-emoting American celebrities.

11. Brad Pitt for Roots

Alone in an office, Pitt takes a swig of coffee-in-a-can, which then causes him to dance, shadowbox, smell his own armpits and also briefly clone himself. But the most ridiculous part of the whole thing is the concept that Brad Pitt works in some office.

10. Ben Stiller for Kirin Chu-Hi

Chu-hi appears to be a lemony alcoholic drink, so basically Japan’s precursor to Four Loko. Surrounded by cheerleaders and football players (they play football in Japan?), Stiller excitedly opens a can and, in the only English word in the whole ad, declares, “Fresh!”

9. Keanu Reeves for Suntory Reserve

In this drink ad (I’m beginning to sense a trend here), Reeves is toiling away at a computer in the dark, long before he’d make his career doing that as Neo in “The Matrix.” But this time around, the vibe is less “the One” and more “deleted scene from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.”

8. Arnold Schwarzenegger for V&V

Arnold speaking Japanese? Check. Arnold in a golden toga? Check. Arnold’s disembodied head? Check. I believe that’s called the Japanese Ad Trifecta.

7. Natalie Portman for Lux

The only female star on the list, Portman pulls up on a motorcycle as she’s late for her…fencing audition? But her hair is stupendous, so she makes the fencing team, or something.

6. Sylvester Stallone for Bayern

Stallone is playing golf, but suddenly he brandishes a sausage on a fork. Oh, I get it! Links at the links. But, wait, did he have eating utensils, sausage and some sort of cooking implement stored in his golf bag?

5. Michael J. Fox for…another mystery beverage

Yet another nonsensical ad for liquid excitement that makes one engage in kooky activities that in no way inform anyone about the specifics of said drink. Pay special attention at the :22 mark for a trademark Michael J. Fox moment.

4. Bruce Willis for Eneos

Willis dons an old timey pajama hat in what appears to be an ad for either a credit card company or rotary phones. Or alien stun guns. Definitely one of those three.

3. Hulk Hogan for BigFlow

I honestly have no idea what’s going on here. The Hulkster, in his wrestling onesies, serenades a baby about some sort of air-conditioning unit. You figure it out.

2. Nicolas Cage for Sankyo

Apparently when Nicolas Cage isn’t busy making movies (which is not very often), he spends his free time starring in commercials for something called Sankyo Pachinko. There was quite a stable to choose from, but we picked the two in which he acted the most Nicolas Cage-y.

1. John Travolta for Tokyo Drink

This one not only has a sweaty Travolta dance-lifting in a headband, but features a hyper-cheesy ’80s jingle.

Bonus: Somebody made a big mistake at the douchebag t- shirt factory.

Somebody made a big mistake at the douchebag t- shirt factory.

20 Things Guys Shouldn’t Ever Do To Girls

Written by crazyartideas


20 Things Guys Shouldn’t Ever Do To Girls

  1. Make fun of her hair, face, body, or clothes. Seriously, don’t.
  2. Overuse sarcasm. It’s one thing to joke, it’s another to speaker sarcasm as a second language.
  3. Flirt with other girls. It doesn’t make us want you more, it just makes us angry.
  4. Cheat. Never in any way will you get away with it.
  5. Make promises they can’t keep. If you can’t follow through, don’t say it.
  6. Say “I love you” when they don’t mean it. If the girl you “loved” gained 300 pounds, would you still love her? That’s what I thought.
  7. Lie. You will get caught. Don’t ever under any circumstances try to keep a lie going with a girl. It will not work.
  8. Deny things that are true. If a girl confronts you about something, she knows the truth. Denying it makes her more angry. Grow some balls and own up to it.
  9. Pressure her. If she wants to do something with you, she will.
  10.   Talk about other girls. Don’t say they’re hot, pretty, or even nice. We don’t want to hear it.
  11.   Talk to her about their exes. If you’re saying nice stuff, we’ll assume you still like them, if you say shit, we’ll assume you’ll do the same about us.
  12.   Say shit behind her back. No matter how much you try to keep it a secret, she will hear about it.
  13.   Be a dick to her in front of their friends. They might think it’s funny, but she will definitely not.
  14.   Try to make it look like something was her fault to get yourself out of trouble. It will make things much, much worse.
  15.   Ask why she’s mad at you. Say you were wrong and apologize. Do not say you didn’t do anything wrong. If she’s mad, you obviously did something.
  16.   Joke about wanting to break up. It won’t be taken as a joke, and you’ll be single before you can tell her you were kidding.
  17.   Tell her she’s overreacting. If you thought she was mad before, prepare to meet the she-beast from hell.
  18.   Go to parties or hang out with other girls without your girlfriend. No matter how much she trusts you, she will be worried.
  19.   Make excuses. If you screwed up, don’t try to get out of it.
  20.   Talk to her when you’re mad. You will screw something up and end up regretting it.

Bonus: Growing up, my mom didn’t believe in buying Halloween costumes. Here’s her handiwork: Mr. T and Mr. t


10 Android Apps Every Traveler Should Use

Written by Umar Anjum

Time is a very important thing for every traveler whether he is on vacations or a business trip. This is because the more time you spend on looking for directions, the less time you will have to visit other places and meetings. For all those who use Android can now get rid of this problem. We have gathered a list of 10 excellent Android Apps that can help travelers keep track of the places they visited, how much money they spent and lots more.


Trip Journal is another excellent android app which helps users record their trips and share them with their friends. With Trip Journal, users can record the places you visited, take photos and videos, integrate different social networks and much more.



Waze is a free navigation application which uses real time reports based on the live conditions of the road. With Waze, users can even share road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a ‘heads-up’ about what’s to come.



PiggyBack is a ridesharing application for Android smartphones which helps then share car related expenses with other users in order to save resources and reduce carbon footprints. If you are using Piggyback, you can either pickup other users near you to reduce your costs or you can be a passenger and share ride with some other person.


My Trip Recorder

With My Trip Recorder, travelers can capture different events on the go and share them with your friends. You can make photo, text, and video entries and My Trip Recorder will log them by date and location. You can then upload them to your trip site at and share it with your friends.



Maverick is an off road GPS navigation application with offline maps support, compass and track recording. With Maverick app, users can automatically use Bing, Google and many other Maps, and they are cached so that they can be used offline, share your current position, navigate to different places easily and much more.



With HotelsNearMe, travelers can find the best hotel deals around the globe on their android smartphone. You can search from a massive library of around 135,000+ in 101 countries.



Expensify is a useful android application for android users which helps travelers manage their expenses and receipts anywhere you go. Travelers can easily import receipts from their credit cards and convert them to PDF so that it can be saved online.



With TripIt, users can manage their travel plans, itineraries, track flights and share your travel plans with the rest of your team. You can get instant access to the entire trip planning information you might need while you’re traveling, even when you can’t connect to the Internet.



With FlightTrack, get real time flight status and map tracking from airlines all over the world. It reminds you about the status of flights and the time when you must be at the airport.


Talk to Me

Talk To Me is an excellent speech recognition application for Android smartphones. You can translate into 7 different languages including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. Translation can even be sent via SMS and email as well.


Bonus: It’s funny…

10 Dishes Not to Order on a First Date

?Written by Olivia Ware

Your palms are sweating, you inadvertently raised another awkward conversation topic, and you’re pretty sure your pants seam just ripped. Aren’t first dates stressful enough without a cursed dinner order?

What goes on during the meal will make or break what happens — or doesn’t happen — afterward. Here are some menu items to avoid if you’re hoping for a round two.

1.  The Meal Salad


?Unless your first date is a midweek lunch — which feels disappointing from the get-go — salad does not constitute a full meal. Yes, even with the obligatory strips of grilled chicken or seared tuna.

Go for this instead: If you’ve got to have your greens, start with a small appetizer salad before moving onto a heartier entrée, showing your dining companion you can commit — at least to a whole evening of dining. Chances are the conversation will improve after the first glass of wine, anyway.

2. The Burrito


?No matter how much you love Mexican food — and we all do — wait until at least your third date to go down the taqueria route. The meal will only end in a strong onion odor and mid-to-heavy bloating, which is just enough to kill the after-dinner romance. Save this stop for a group outing, or get to know each other a little better before showing off your guacamole domination. You’d rather not have to hold back anyway.

Go for this instead: Enchiladas or stuffed peppers. You don’t have to pick them up with your hands, but you’ll still get the bean-and-cheese fix you crave.

3.  The Mile-Long Noodles


?Spaghetti and meatballs feed the body and soul, but those tender strands rarely end in a Lady and the Tramp-style kiss. Envision instead unappealing slurping noises and sauce-drenched pasta being shoveled from fork to mouth. Constant slippage and fumbling will just frustrate you and embarrass your date, destroying any sparks that might fly.

Go for this instead: Penne, orecchiette, fusilli — any noodle that lends itself to a single forkful. Those shapes always end up covered in more sauce anyway.

4.  The Tiny Game Bird


?It’s natural to be seduced by quail on a chichi nouveau American dinner menu. More interesting than chicken and lighter than beef, the little birds pair beautifully with fall fruits and rustic flavors. But before you order, note that it is physically impossible to detach the meat from their bones using a fork and knife. Yes, it’s considered appropriate etiquette to pick quail up with your fingers. Still, everyone looks barbaric when gnawing at bony legs — and it’s an all-too-vivid reminder why most people prefer boneless and skinless.

Go for this instead: Duck usually wins in elegance and taste when it comes to high-end game. A rare seared breast will keep bones off the table and your date’s attention on what you’re saying.

5.  The Kids’ Meal


?Go ahead, order a cheeseburger at a fancy restaurant, because it’s A) probably deliciously decadent (caramelized onions! Gorgonzola!) and B) charmingly unpretentious. But do yourself a favor and skip the pepperoni pizza, mac and cheese, and chicken tenders, which can’t help but raise a few questions. Mama’s boy? Frat boy? Repressed gal looking for someone to baby her? Even if your date isn’t judging, he or she will most likely have reservations about your obvious lack of adventure.

Go for this instead: When in doubt, go classic. A margherita pizza shows a respect for simplicity, and even fancy veggies taste good battered and fried with a smoky aioli. Save the nostalgic stuff for dessert, when s’mores are still adorable.

6.  The Vodka Red Bull


?Presumably you and your date are at a restaurant, not a club. Skip the college-era booze, which will only reveal immaturity (and total lack of awareness).

Go for this instead: Beer, a glass of wine or a selection from the cocktail menu never fail, and if you must mix caffeine and liquor, save it for the dance floor. By then you’ve proven you know how to behave like an adult, so it’s okay to act like a teenager again.

7.  The Nondessert


?You won’t win over a date with a sweet tooth by ordering a cheese plate, dessert wine, or even sorbet after main courses are cleared. It’s safe to assume your companion wants a real dessert — and doesn’t want to feel guilty about it, either.

Go for this instead: Even if you prefer potato chips over cookies, give your date the chance to indulge in the flourless chocolate cake. Remember, chocolate is an aphrodisiac.

8.  The Tooth Magnets


?Anyone who loves tabbouleh knows its aftereffects are not pretty. Same goes for pesto, spinach, and corn on the cob. You know the foods that seem to find themselves into every crevice in your mouth, so make it easy on yourself and avoid them. No one wants to be so hypnotized by the food in your teeth that they can’t focus on what you’re saying — not to mention how this blunder hurts your kissing chances.

Go for this instead: Nonchunky, nonleafy, nongreen sauces like bolognese and vegetable purees are generally safe. Just feast on the chimichurri after you drop the L-word.

9.  The Whole Shellfish


?There’s a reason seafood boils are generally a family affair. Any meal that starts with a layer of newspaper on the table is one to be shared with no one less than kin. Besides the near-massacre of tearing apart a lobster with your bare hands, you’re also faced with the difficult decision of whether to suck the crawfish heads.

Go for this instead: Opt for crustaceans with soft shells when you’re still at the small talk phase, and you can roll up your sleeves when the relationship gets serious.

10.  The Raw Allium


?It’s the cardinal rule of dining and making out: Don’t eat garlic if you want to get kissed later. But since so many dishes start with garlic and onions, it’s impossible to avoid them all. Read between the lines and order wisely. If "garlic" or "onion" is listed in the title of the dish, skip it; those are the main ingredients, and you’ll be tasting them for days. If the garlic and onions are served raw — rubbed on crostini or topping a hamburger, for example — they’ll also stick with you long after the check is paid.

Go for this instead: Make sure the strongly scented stuff is cooked beyond recognition before you order (slow-roasted garlic and caramelized onions are generally okay). And if you decide halfway through dinner that this date is going nowhere? Flag the waiter for a side of garlic fries and enjoy.

Bonus: To the members of US Congress


How to Migrate Your Facebook Account and Data to Google+

Written by lifehacker

You may not be ready to ditch Facebook for good, but now that you’ve had a chance to kick the tires on Google+, you might be ready to make it your go-to social network. The problem: You’ve built up a lot of friends, photos, videos, and other data on Facebook over the years, and you don’t want to simply lose all that data. Here’s how to migrate it all from Facebook to Google+.

Photo remixed from an original by Shutterstock.

When Google+ came out, it’s success was very much up in the air (remember Google Buzz?). However, it seems a lot of people have already thrown themselves into Google+ full force—Facebook may have 750 million users, but Google+ has already crossed the 20 million user milestone in only 30 days. If you’re ready to give it a shot as your main network, here’s what you need to do.

Migrate Your Friends

A social network is nothing without a group of friends with whom to talk, so the first thing you’ll want to do is migrate your friends. Not everyone you know is going to be on Google+ yet, but it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t leave anybody out—and you can always send those other late adopters an invite to encourage them.

How to Migrate Your Facebook Account and Data to Google+The easiest way to migrate your Facebook friends is to import them through a Yahoo email address. I know that sounds awful, but hear me out: While a few people have created browser extensions and other migration methods, Facebook shuts them down pretty quickly, since they don’t like non-partners pulling friend data. In addition, the non-Yahoo methods usually add your Facebook friends to Google Contacts, which you probably don’t want. You may not have a Yahoo account, but that’s what makes this method great—no need to fill up your main address book with Facebook junk. Plus, it really does only take a few minutes.

To do this, head to and click the Create New Account button (if you already have a Yahoo or Flickr account, you can skip this step). Once you’ve created an account, sign in and head to the Contacts tab. Click on “Import Contacts” and choose the Facebook option. You should now see all your Facebok friends in your Yahoo address book.


Lastly, head to Google+ and go to the Circles tab. Click “Find and Invite” and click the Yahoo button. It’ll add all your Yahoo Contacts (or Facebook Friends, in this case), to the Find and Invite page and you can add your Facebook friends to your circles. I, for one, was shocked at how many of my friends were already using Google+ without me knowing.

Migrate Your Photos

How to Migrate Your Facebook Account and Data to Google+Migrating your photos is ridiculously easy with the previously mentioned Move Your Photos Chrome extension. Install it, click on its icon in the extension bar, and log in to your Facebook account. Select the photos you want to transfer and click the upload button at the very bottom of the page. You’ll see the progress in the lower right-hand corner. Don’t log out while it works, just let it do its thing.

When it’s done, you’ll see those albums in Google+. By default, they won’t be public, and you can adjust each album’s privacy settings by going into them and clicking on the “Edit” link under “Visible To”.

If you don’t want to use Chrome, you can grab a similar extension for Firefox, but you have to transfer albums one by one. If you have Chrome installed, I recommend using the Chrome extension just this once because it’s much faster.

Migrate Your Videos

The only way to migrate your videos, unfortunately, is to download the entirety of your Facebook data and re-upload them. To do this, head to Account > Account Settings, and scroll down to “Download Your Information”. Hit the “learn more” link and hit he Download button. It will take awhile to gather your info, but you’ll receive an email when it’s done, and you can download a ZIP file full of your photos, videos, and profile information.


Strangely, when I did this, one of my two videos was missing from the “videos” folder in the ZIP file. However, I was still able to download that video from Facebook by installing the Video Download Helperextension for Firefox, navigating to the video you want to download, playing it, and clicking the arrow next to Download Helper’s icon in the add-on bar.

Once you’ve wrangled all the videos you want to move to Google+, you’ll just have to upload them one by one. Head into Google+, click on your profile, and go to “Videos”. Hit the “Upload New Videos” link and re-upload your videos to your Google+ profile.

Update and View Both Networks at Once


Now that all your data’s been migrated, you can enjoy using Google+ as your main social network. However, chances are you still have a few friends on Facebook you want to keep up with. The best way to do this is with the Start Google Plus extension for both Chrome and Firefox. Once you install it, you’ll see a Facebook and Twitter icon in the upper right-hand corner, which you can click on to connect your other accounts. Once your Facebook account’s been linked, every status update you make on Google+ will have the option of posting to Facebook as well, just by clicking on the Facebook icon. It’ll take with it any links, pictures, or other data that the status contains.

Start Google Plus will also plug your Facebook feed into your Google+ feed, so you don’t even need to check Facebook anymore. Just check your Google+ feed, and it’ll show you all of Facebook’s news feed as well, with links to comment if you so desire.


If you prefer to not use an extension, you can also update your status on both networks at once using Facebook’s “Upload via Email” feature. Just head to Facebook’s mobile page, copy your Upload via Email email address, and add it to its own “Facebook” circle on Google+. From now on, when you update your status on Google+, you can just include your Facebook circle to send that status to Facebook as well. This method isn’t perfect, however: it’ll only work with statuses of up to 50 characters, and it doesn’t work with photos. However, it does work over mobile, which is nice, and without any extensions.

It’s also worth mentioning the previously mentioned Google+Facebook extension. While it’s a much easier way to update both statuses at once, it’s been hit by a bit of controversy, which you can read more about over at our post and on this Reddit thread. The company has responded to accusations of malware injection, and it seems more accidental than something that was actually of malicious intent, but we still recommending you use this at your own risk. The “update by email” method is still the safest, but this is a possibility as well. With other extensions out there like Start Google Plus, there’s really no reason to take the risk.

There isn’t a foolproof, one-step way to migrate your data, but this should help make the process quite a bit easier for you Google+ fans out there. Got any of your own migration tips to share? Let us know in the comments.

Bonus: Up at sunrise, taking my favorite photo

Obama’s 5 big mistakes

Written by David Frum

Washington (CNN) — If the debt ceiling crisis were a movie, President Barack Obama would deserve an Oscar for his performance in the role of “the last reasonable man.”

But of course the crisis is not a movie. The crisis is a deadly serious clash of ideas and interests. And there, the president has lost his way

Obama has lost his way so badly that even his core liberal supporters should be questioning whether they have got the right man in the job.

The indictment has five headings:

1.Obama has ceased to lead on the economy.

The management guru Stephen Covey famously said: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Economic recovery is — or should be — the main thing. In 2009, Obama advanced a series of bold proposals to accelerate recovery: his big fiscal stimulus, the auto bailout and so on.

The president’s proposals did not fail, exactly. But they did not work as advertised. The American economy limps weakly forward, leaving millions out of work.

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt demanded from his administration “bold, persistent experimentation.” By contrast, Obama put measures in place at the beginning and waited for them to yield results. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, at the end of 2010, he added one more measure to the mix: a partial cut to the payroll tax, included as part of the deal that renewed the Bush tax cuts.

The payroll tax holiday is welcome if late. But it was small (2 percentage points out of the 12.6% paid by workers and employers) and was almost immediately offset by the surge in oil prices after the so-called Arab Spring. That surge took back from workers every dollar of the $110 billion in tax relief delivered by the payroll holiday.

And since December, Obama has surrendered entirely to the claim that we can somehow fix the economy by fixing the debt problem. The truth is the opposite: Fix the economy, and the debt problem will shrink to much more manageable proportions.

2.Obama does not effectively use the domestic powers of the presidency.

Talk radio shows accuse Obama of acting like a Third World dictator heading a thug government. That’s a devilishly ingenious line of attack on a president who actually makes weaker use of his domestic power than any since Jimmy Carter.

Example: The U.S. recovery that commenced in the summer of 2009 stalled in the spring and summer of 2010. Many economists blame the stall on the Federal Reserve’s April 2010 decision to stop providing additional monetary stimulus for fear of igniting inflation. Those inflation fears proved utterly misplaced, and in late 2010 the Federal Reserve resumed its monetary stimulus.

Where was the president during this crucial debate? AWOL.

Yes, yes, the Federal Reserve is independent and all that. But other presidents have succeeded in making their views known and respected on monetary policy. Obama had a unique chance to influence the debate, because through the summer of 2010 two of the seven seats on the Fed’s Board of Governors stood vacant. The president nominated expansion-minded governors to fill the seats. The nominations were put on hold by Republican senators. And what did the president do? Did he take to the airways to demand action on his nominees? Did he punish the senators by stopping federal projects in their states? Did he fill the seats with recess appointments?

To borrow the answer from Fred Armisen’s imitation of Obama on “Saturday Night Live”: “I’m seeing two big accomplishments: jack and squat.”

3.Obama cannot communicate empathy for Americans in economic distress.

Remember that video of the Obama supporter expressing her exhaustion and disappointment with the president’s record of help to the middle class?

Watch it again, and pay careful attention to what the president does. He first makes a perfunctory effort to connect with the woman in front of him as a fellow-parent. Then he rattles off a list of small programmatic changes: in the student loan program, in credit card regulation, none of them especially relevant to the woman in question. He finishes with a “stay the course” message that must ring hollow in the ears of all those for whom the “course” means unemployment of 38 weeks or longer.

Notice what the president does not do. He does not thank his questioner for defending him. He does not ask her questions of his own. He is so determined to sell his narrative, that he cannot hear or honor her fears. And indeed the questioner did lose her job a few weeks after the town hall meeting.

For two years, Obama’s economic message has been “recovery is around the corner.” He has delivered this message from factory floors and restaurant tables. He has not spoken in front of groups of unemployed; he has not spoken at welfare offices.

Obama’s disconnect from those in distress may explain the remarkable collapse of his support among younger whites, once one of his most important groups of supporters. Pew reports a 10-point surge in Republican identification among whites under age 30 since 2008. These are some of the voters hardest hit by this recession. They are voters to whom this president has spoken least.

4.Obama over-relied on banks and bankers.

Like President George W. Bush before him, Obama took bold and necessary action to save the U.S. financial system in the early spring of 2009. A lot of ugly things were done. A lot of reckless people got away scot-free — in fact, richer than ever. But apocalypse was averted, so congratulations all around. Afterward though: Where was the reckoning? The administration remained focused on reassuring bankers long after it had finished the job of saving the banks.

Yes, Congress did pass a law, Dodd-Frank, that addressed some of the worst abuses of the 2000s. For example, Dodd-Frank exposes ratings agencies to private lawsuits for “knowing or reckless” failures to conduct proper investigations of the bonds they rate.

Unless you follow banking law closely, however, you would have little idea that any preventive measures have been taken against the next bubble. What got the headlines instead was the president’s appointment of one high-profile banker, William Daley, as his chief of staff — and a rumor that he intended to appoint another as his second secretary of the Treasury, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase.

Little enough justice was done. Almost none was seen to be done.

5.Obama is not a good negotiator.

It’s really striking that any time the president inserts himself into a negotiation, he ends up with zero results and all parties mad at him. The Middle East may be the most extreme case, but there are domestic counterparts, too.

When he negotiated the renewal of the Bush tax cuts in 2010, why didn’t he get himself an increase in the debt ceiling at the same time? The tax cuts expanded the deficit beyond what it otherwise would have been. Republicans dearly wanted the tax cuts extended and would have paid for them. But no.

In this round of debt negotiations, the president has drawn red lines. He has threatened to veto a small increase in the debt ceiling, one that would force him to return to the argument before the election in 2012. By contrast, he has not threatened to veto debt-ceiling measures that cut too deeply into social programs. His red lines are drawn for his political advantage — not to protect his core supporters’ values and interests. His red lines are not theirs.

Whether it was health care or the deficit or now the debt ceiling, direct encounters between Obama and his Republican opposite numbers have always ended badly for the president. Yes, the president faces unusually extreme and intransigent opposition. But that’s a description of the difficulty, not an excuse for failure. Presidents win negotiations when they can mobilize the public behind them. That was Ronald Reagan’s secret weapon in 1981. It has never been Barack Obama’s. And the results are as we all see.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.

An earlier version of this commentary incorrectly attributed a quote from Stephen Covey.


Bonus: F**k Pennies

Greatest professor ever?

Hi everyone,

I wanted to let you all know that there are several openings in the summer section of JMC 559, which begins Monday. Given that both fall sections are full (with people on the waiting list), this would be a good opportunity for you to fulfill the 559 requirement.

I’ll be teaching the class, and will do my best to make it fun. You won’t be writing any papers in the class. Grades will be based on open book, open notes tests. No need for a lot of memorization, in other words.
The latest editions of media law textbooks cost more than $100, so the textbook for 559 will be the previous edition of Mass Media Law by Don Pember (the 2009-10 edition). The UWM bookstore has a few copies on sale for S9.98 on the sale table at the bottom of the stairs that take you down to the textbook level. (If you can’t find a copy, ask for Jake at the textbook information desk.) Used textbook websites are selling it for as little as 52 a copy.

There’s not much difference between the previous edition and the latest edition. I’ll be glad to provide the updates in class so that you can save money.

Bonus: Oh how times have changed…


10 Things They Don’t Tell You In Business School

Written by Brett Nelson

Listen up, budding Masters Of The Universe, and all those who dream of walking their path to wealth, power and spacious summer homes.

At many business schools, boot-camp week–where the unwashed get a taste of debits, credits and such–starts in less than a month. After that, and just beneath the throb of your hangover (a B-school accessory), you will detect another inexorable rhythm–a faint ticking to be precise. This is the tell-tale heart to your two-year, $100,000 investment. The relentless reminder that you better get to learnin’ (or at least networking), lest you end up working for, and maybe getting laid off by, one of your classmates one day.


Image by Patricia Drury via Flickr

Now for the good–or totally vexing–news, depending how you take it: After all the spreadsheets and cost-of-capital calculations, after all the case studies and Power Point presentations, after all the tuition money is gone and it’s just you and your pedigree, contacts and gumption, guess what?

You get to start over again–in the real world.

As anyone who employs people and writes checks will confirm, turning $1 into a $1.10 is a real bitch. Turning that $1.10 into $1.25, even tougher. I had to laugh the other day when a former colleague, now a partner at a boutique digital-marketing firm, sent me the following text out of the blue: “Generating positive cash flow is one of the hardest f—ing things in the world.” And then some, Matt.

For all the wonderful instruction at places like Harvard, Wharton and my alma mater, the Stern School of Business at NYU, b-schoolers should remember that making money involves so much more than columns in a spreadsheet and the ever-shifting assumptions behind them.

With that in mind, here’s a supplemental, 10-step curriculum:

1. If It Ain’t Broke, Still Fix It

One of the hardest decisions business owners have to make is turning their backs on cash when it’s flowing. But that’s exactly what you must have the courage to do sometimes to protect your franchise. Think about all those aggressive mortgage underwriters who scooped up fees by the shovelful during the housing bubble, when they should have been tightening their lending criteria. Or USA Inc., which ran deficits for years–because, well, our creditors didn’t seem to mind–and now faces a staggering $60 trillion fiscal hole (including the present value of all future obligations to its entitlement programs).

2. If You Don’t End Up Working At Goldman Sachs, Forget What You Learned About Finance

Discounted Cash Flow Calculator - is a tool to...

Image via Wikipedia

This one comes courtesy of one of my classmates, now finance chief for the unit of a large manufacturing firm, who would rather remain anonymous:

“In a 12-year finance career with large respected companies (General Electric, Honeywell, BASF), I can count on two hands the number of IRR (internal rate of return), DCF (discounted cash flow) and NPV (net present value) analyses I have completed, and I am pretty sure that I analyzed exponentially more balance sheets in a classroom than I ever have in a boardroom. It is obviously important to be fluent in the language of finance, but as for the finance majors I hire (graduate and undergrad alike), I spend the first year or two retraining them.

“A career in corporate finance is nothing like what is taught in school,” he adds. “The job is largely to be the conscience of the business–expecting and demanding explanation for decisions and acting as an internal chief operating officer well versed in most topics (products, customers, manufacturing process, supply chain, etc). I am sure a career at Goldman or a hedge fund is different, but my guess is that life at most large companies lines up pretty close to my experience.”


Image by dynamosquito via Flickr

3. Take Your Financial Models With An Indiana-Jones-Sized Boulder Of Salt

Another biz-school mate, now a health care consultant, chimed in with this stern admonition:

“Too often people in business rely upon a model demonstrating projections out 15 – 30 years.” I was astounded: Fifteen to thirty, I confirmed? In school we worked in more modest 3-to-5-year increments, with an understanding that anything beyond that was magical thinking. “Believe it or not,” he went on, “I have seen some done out that far for deals [acquisitions] and often for public-private partnerships.”

Find me an industry (save for perhaps utilities) where the assumptions you make today apply for three years, let alone 30. No, really, find me one.

4. Overpromise And Try To Deliver

Under-promising and over-delivering may work on conference calls with Wall Street analysts who need earnings projections for their valuation models. (GE made an art out of that game for years under Jack Welch.) But that strategy won’t always cut it when chasing new business to meet growth targets (or just payroll). Sometimes you will have to bite off more than your models–and your gut–say you can chew just to win the business. It’s an uncomfortable sensation at best, and a reputation-damaging maneuver at worst if you don’t come through. Get ready–and no tears.

Dumb and Dumber

Image via Wikipedia

5. If You Don’t Know Who The Sucker Is, It’s You

Yet another B-school colleague of mine, who probably plays too much poker, recalled this adage, a favorite around the halls of Forbes . “People are happy to take your money by pulling you off your home court,” he says. “Don’t let them. Deploy capital in ways that you understand not only intellectually, but also viscerally. Stick to home games–that’s where your instincts will flourish.”

6. If No One “Owns” A Project, It Won’t Get Done

Most people don’t put in long hours for their health, or to make shareholders wealthy, or because their families drive them nuts and they’d rather grind it out in the office. (Okay, sometimes that last part is true.) They do it because their job demands it, and with any luck they take a lot of pride in doing it well.

Which is why all projects need champions. Not the kind who beats his chest and spews happy mission statements. The kind who’s backside is on the line if things don’t pan out. More importantly, the kind who has the authority and resources to make decisions that other people have to follow, else their backsides are on the line.

It’s not that people are lazy or incompetent (they may well be, but that’s a hiring issue). It’s that, over time, you get what you incentivize–or don’t.

7. Be Clear

They actually do tell you this one in b-school, but not in so many words and not vehemently enough. The clearer you are, the more thoroughly you probably understand what you’re talking about, and the more capable and trustworthy you will seem to customers, colleagues and employees.

San Francisco in fog

Image via Wikipedia

Being clear has immense ramifications–on productivity, customer satisfaction and employee morale. If your Power Point deck contains the word “ideate,” cut, and do not paste. In fact, eliminate all jargon from everything you do. (If you think the word “utilize” is a smarter version of “use,” please, please read The Most Annoying Business Jargon.) This applies to electronic exchanges as well. The simplest, most straight forward emails can, and will, get twisted beyond meaningful comprehension. If the message is mission-critical, communicate face-to-face, or by phone, as best you can.

8. Business Involves People

People are a pain. They whine, mess up and have all sorts of problems. That’s why every now and again you should ask how they’re doing–and actually listen to the answer. It doesn’t cost a cent and helps lift spirits and build trust. (For more on bucking up the troops, check out 10 Ways To Boost Morale On A Budget.)

9. Read Forbes

Consider the source, but here are just two justifications for following this advice: Amid Turbulence, The Flight Plan That Sets Forbes Apart and What Makes A Good Business Story?

New York University

Image via Wikipedia

10. Entrepreneurship Better Be A Labor Of Love (At Least At First)

Some final words of warning–and encouragement–from a fourth classmate, who runs his own small clothing company: “Unless you have a partner, family member or some other person who has to give you capital, your [entrepreneurial] experience may amount to a salmon swimming upstream in a 2-inch deep river.” Inviting.

That said, he adds: “Three years after graduation, I have to say my life is beautifully enhanced by my MBA. Kind of like when you need it, ideas descend in a timely, light and resonant fashion to help me cut to the chase.”

I’ll second that.

Have any valuable insights on business school, or on what it takes to turn a profit in the real world? Jot a comment on this post.

And if you run a small business with real growth potential, or if you know someone who does, please nominate a contender for Forbes’ List Of Most Promising Private Companies.

For now, class dismissed.

Bonus: Am I doing this right?

9 Reasons Why Failure Is Not Fatal

Written by the99percent

Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

Failure. Fear of it is universal, experiencing it is inevitable, and running from it is dependably routine. As a culture we can’t seem to shake the negativity of the term – even though most success stories have a shared foundation in some kind of accidental realization, wrong-footed first attempt, or outright error. Here, we pool our favorite videos and articles on the subject as a gentle reminder that our only real failure is to live life without it.1. Kathryn Schulz: On Being Wrong
This brief TED talk by “Wrongologist” and author Kathryn Schulz cleverly covers the inescapable error of the human mind – and the beautiful results of its imperfection.

2. Sir James Dyson: Failure Doesn’t Suck
The US’s bestselling vacuum isn’t just a perfect example of rethinking the norm, it’s the happy result of failure – 5,126 of them. The relentless inventor behind the company comes clean in this interview, attributing his comfy relationship with getting it wrong to finally getting it right.

You once described the inventor’s life as “one of failure.” How so?
I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.

Not all failures lead to solutions, though. How do you fail constructively?
We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You’re on it, and you can’t get off. I spent seven years on our washing machine [which has two drums, instead of one].

3. Paulo Coelho: On the Fear of Failure
Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coehlo shares his personal views on confidence in the face of critical response. This comes from a series of awesome videos on failure from Berghs’ Exhibition 2011. We highly recommend the watching the lot of them.

4. Twyla Tharp: Real Change Involves Failure
One of America’s most celebrated living choreographers, Twyla Tharp is also a keen observer of the creative habit – in fact, she wrote the book on it. From Tharp’s point of view, failure is a natural part of the path to innovation. Here’s an excerpt from an excellent interview with the Harvard Business Review:

The business literature nowadays talks a lot about the need for failure in the pursuit of excellence. Do you accept that? 
Of course I do. Sooner or later, all real change involves failure—but not in the sense that many people understand failure. If you do only what you know and do it very, very well, chances are that you won’t fail. You’ll just stagnate, and your work will get less and less interesting, and that’s failure by erosion. True failure is a mark of accomplishment in the sense that something new and different was tried. Ideally, the best way to fail is in private. In my of?ce, the ratio of failure to success on the dances I create is probably something like six to one. I create about six times more material for my dances than I end up using in the ?nal piece. But I need that unused material to get my one success. I have also sometimes failed in public, and that’s very painful. But failing, even in this way, is not useless. It can force you to get yourself together and to produce something new.

5. Seth Godin: How the Lizard Brain Holds Us Back
In this classic talk from the inaugural 99% Conference, author and entrepreneur Seth Godin talks about the lizard brain, the root of the primal doubts that drive us to sabotage creative projects before we ever show them to the world.

6. Jamer Hunt: Six Types of Failure, Only a Few Help You Innovate
Playing devil’s advocate to an upbeat view of failure, educator Jamer Hunt takes a look at the shades of gray, separating the truly beneficial mistakes from those failures that might indicate a darker, deeper flaw – for instance, the BP oil spill.

Abject failure
This is the really dark one. It marks you and you may not ever fully recover from it. People lose their lives, jobs, respect, or livelihoods. Examples: British Petroleum’s Gulf oil spill; mortgage-backed securities.

Structural failure
It cuts — deeply — but it doesn’t permanently cripple your identity or enterprise. Examples: Apple iPhone 4’s antenna; Windows Vista.

Glorious failure 
Going out in a botched but beautiful blaze of glory — catastrophic but exhilarating. Example: Jamaican bobsled team. 

Common failure 
Everyday instances of screwing up that are not too difficult to recover from. The apology was invented for this category. Examples: oversleeping and missing a meeting at work; forgetting to pick up your kids from school; overcooking the tuna. 

Version failure 
Small failures that lead to incremental but meaningful improvements over time. Examples: Linux operating system; evolution. 

Predicted failure 
Failure as an essential part of a process that allows you to see what it is you really need to do more clearly because of the shortcomings. Example: the prototype — only by creating imperfect early versions of it can you learn what’s necessary to refine it.

7. Gillian Welch: On Rolling with the Punches

Sometimes the things we call failures are really just lessons in letting go. In this video, acclaimed musicians Gillian Welch and David Rawlings collaborate with an artist and a specialty printing group to make an album cover, learning to conspire with their changing circumstances along the way.

8. Tim Harford: Trial, Error and the God Complex
Economics writer Tim Harford believes that all great leaps forward emerge through trial and error. In this TED talk, he articulates the challenges of admitting our own fallibility. Rather than striving to be an all-knowing God, he argues that we should strive to make good mistakes.

9. J.K. Rowling: The Fringe Benefits of Failure

In this now-legendary commencement address, the inimitable J.K. Rowling discusses how failure, while certainly not fun, helps us strip away the inessential so that we can focus our energies on what really matters.

Carmel Hagen is a brand strategist, writer, and speaker who’s helping creative thinkers launch socially aware companies at COMMON. For thoughts on creativity, social entrepreneurialism and nerd tech, follow Carmel on Twitter here.

Bonus: A more accurate title.

A more accurate title.