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The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by FedEx. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

The holidays are upon us, which means it’s time to buy gifts for family, friends and coworkers. If you’re looking to be an environmental hero, you can not only scrap the wrapping paper and extraneous bows, but also purchase a green gift for the eco-conscious guys and gals in your life.

There are plenty of eco-friendly and sustainable tools for the digital lifestyle. We offer 16 suggestions below.

1. Etsy Circuit Board Jewelry

The latest trend in fashion? E-waste. Instead of tossing computers into landfills, Etsy vendors (and others) have rebirthed the PC’s innards as geek chic accessories. From collars and charms to rings and bracelets, there’s no shortage of circuit board gems.

Price: Varies

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For more sustainable gift ideas, please visit Global Goods Partners, NRDC Green Gifts — both are great resources.

We know we’ve only scratched the surface — what other sustainable gifts are on your wish list? Let us know in the comments below.


Series supported by FedEx


 

The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by FedEx. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kutaytanir

More About: Commerce With a Conscience Series, features, gift guide, Holidays 2011, mashable

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Apple‘s long climb back from the margins of the PC industry will culminate in world domination next year, according to one researcher — but only if you consider the iPad a PC.

Canalys is projecting that Apple will overtake Hewlett-Packard as the leading global PC vendor sometime before the second half of 2012. Canalys, however, lumps iPad sales in with PC sales, which makes Amazon a player as well. The researcher predicts that total “pad” sales will reach 59 million units by the end of 2011, a category that includes the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet.

The entry of those two lower-priced tablets will dampen Apple’s growth somewhat, according to Canalys analyst Tim Couling. “Apple has seen its PC market share expand from 9% to 15% in just four quarters, though iPad shipments in its core market – the United States – are likely to come under pressure in Q4 due to the launch of the Fire and Nook at extremely competitive price points,” he wrote in a release from the company. “HP and Apple will fight for top position in Q4, but Apple may have to wait for the release of iPad 3 before it passes HP.”

Factoring in the growth of the tablet market, full-year global PC shipments for 2011 are expected to rise 15% to 415 million units.

Canalys also predicts that the share for Android-based tablets will be boosted by the release of Android 4.0, a.k.a. “Ice Cream Sandwich.” The upgrade of Google’s OS has already shown up in Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus and is expected to appear in smartphones from HTC and others in 2012.

A boost from Ice Cream Sandwich no doubt would be a relief for vendors of Android-based tablets. According to research released by NPD on Tuesday, the combined sales for all non-Apple tablets in the U.S. for January to October was just 1.2 million units. By its own reckoning, Apple sold more than 25 million iPads for the first three quarters of this year.


BONUS: The Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet


Nook Tablet Box

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Image courtesy of Flickr, Ping Ping

More About: apple, canalys, HP, ipad, PCs, trending

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Layla Revis is vice president of digital influence at Ogilvy PR Worldwide. Her specialties include international affairs, tourism and multicultural marketing.

Location-based services like Foursquare are here to stay, that much is true. For some, however, local deals and specials only go so far. That’s where location-based dating comes in. Love: there’s an app for that.

In 2009, a study by online dating site Skout noted that 69% of people were comfortable meeting up with someone they met on their iPhone, and 40% were using a mobile dating service while out at bars, clubs and restaurants.

Now GPS dating apps for those looking for local love have flooded the iPhone and Android markets. The following list includes five geo-location apps for romance-seekers on the go.


1. Brightkite


One of the earlier GPS-powered social networks, Brightkite isn’t a “dating” app per se, but rather, introduces local users on a basic level. Brightkite uses participants’ current locations to connect people, allowing them to chat and possibly meet up. The network has been heralded as a great way to meet new people, find a date or connect with locals while traveling.


2. MeetMoi


More of a small startup compared to its Match.com and OkCupid competition, MeetMoi may not boast as large an audience, but its select participation may actually work in its favor. The company’s goal is to “strip down dating to what’s essential — the introduction.”

By showing you nearby singles who meet your dating criteria, MeetMoi hopes to lead you to a real-life connection. Once you’ve joined, the company’s technology updates your location in real time, helping to introduce you to great people nearby. If you like what you see on that person’s profile, choose to connect with them immediately.


3. OkCupid


Dubbed “the Google of online dating,” OKCupid hit the scene in 2004. The service slowly carved out an industry presence by offering its network for free. Furthermore, OKCupid also hosts OK Trends, a blog that charts analytics and user habits.

In February 2011, the company was acquired by IAC, operator of Match.com, for $50 million. In July OKCupid introduced its geo-location app to help users keep watch for local singles.


4. Sonar.me


Sonar brings your social network to life in the real world. By connecting to Facebook and Twitter, the app lets you see, in real time, how to connect with those physically around you. Each time you check in to a location, Sonar checks whether other users are nearby. From there, you can make the decision whether to say hello.

Although Sonar doesn’t define itself as a geo-location dating service, the company’s goal is to “uncover the hidden connections you miss everyday, in real time, in the palm of your hand.”


5. Skout


One of the safest apps out there, Skout’s terrific flagging services alert users of inappropriate contact. With over one million users, the service hosts one of the largest and most popular location-based dating apps on the iPhone and Android markets. Features like private chat, private blog access, search filters and flirt buzz (which tracks who around you is hooking up) allow you to connect with only the people you want to meet, making this app a solid favorite among the online singles audience.

What do you think about the future of mobile connection? What’s the best location-based dating app you’ve encountered on the market?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, aluxum

More About: contributor, features, geolocation, location-based, mobile apps, online dating

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10 Photo Apps That Enhance Instagram




Amanda MacArthur is an author, professional blogger, and speaker specializing in business marketing, technology, small business management and restaurant development. She is a founding partner at BuzzFarmers, an audience development company in Providence, RI. You can find her on Twitter at @amaaanda and read her blog on Amander.com.

Ten years ago, you probably wouldn’t have dreamed your cellphone would replace your camera. Now, millions of people carry mobiles that easily out-snap their point-and-shoot competitors. Better yet, these phones can download hundreds of filters, add customized text and post to social media in the blink of an eye (or a shutter, as the case may be).

The camera industry may have taken a hit with the rise of photo filter applications, but photography as an art form continues to grow, especially for the average Joe.

Ever-popular Instagram defeated competitors due to its style, simplicity, connectivity and community. Users are able to take a photo, make it look like they took it fifty years ago and then share it with all of their feeds.

SEE ALSO: Meet the Top 15 Photographers on Instagram [PICS]

But many supplemental apps serve to make Instagram even better by picking up on some basic functionality shortfalls. After all, Twitter didn’t always have it’s own search engine (remember Summize?), and like Twitter, Instagram shouldn’t be offended by a little development piggybacking. Here are 10 apps that make more out of Instagram.

1. Postagram

Travelers and adventurers alike will appreciate this app. With Instagram integration, you’re able to send postcards from anywhere, anytime. Add the addresses of your favorite recipients. When something photo-worthy happens, snap a pic and send it. Your loved one will receive a postcard with your photo, which they can print for their fridge. Prefer magnets? Stickygram has you covered.

Price: FREE

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Image courtesy of Stan Schroeder.

More About: apps, contributor, features, instagram, iphone, mobile app, photography

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Researchers Build Terminator Contact Lens




Terminator Contact Lens

Arnold Schwarzenegger, your contact lenses are calling. Researchers at the University of Washington have successfully built and tested what may be the first-ever Terminator-style heads-up display contact lens. For now, the lens displays only a single, well-focused pixel and the wireless power is only enough to give the appearance of constant illumination, but this is the first step toward, as researchers describe it, building lenses that “may receive data from external platforms (e.g. mobile phones) and provide real-time notification of important events.”

Officially called “A single-pixel wireless contact lens display” the super lens, which researchers successfully tested on rabbits, is comprised of a polymer substrate, light-emitted diode, antenna, and an integrated circuit to harvest the wireless power. Researchers built the lens through a highly complex process that included fabricating the antenna, electrical interconnects, electrical isolation and pads for solder coating directly on the contact lens.

To successfully build a working lens, the researchers had to overcome several key challenges. First of all, the lens display, which sits in a live eye, is standalone, meaning it can’t have wires running out of it. So power transmission and storage all has to happen wirelessly and primarily on the lens itself. Obviously, the lens had to be bio-compatible with the human eye — it can’t inflame or in any way damage the sensitive organ and the radio frequencies have to remain at safe levels. The third and most obvious challenge was building the necessary technology at a “micrometer scale.”

A red LED, which was used on a previous test lens, was subsequently replaced with a blue micro-LED mounted on a sapphire wafer. Researchers found that, due to the proximity to the retina, they could not focus the blue light. So a series of micro-thin Fresnel lenses were added to rectify the image.

The finished lens was tested on an anesthetized rabbit with no ill effects — though no one has asked the rabbit for comment.

A single pixel does not an image make, but this is clearly the first step in always-available heads up display and augmented reality. University of Washington researchers envision a whole spectrum of uses for the lens technology. From the research paper submitted to the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering in September:

“As contact lens based biosensors advance, they may alert the wearer of physiological anomalies, such as irregular glucose or lactate levels. With more colors and increased resolution, contact lenses may display text, be used with gaming devices, or offer cues from navigation systems.”

Obviously, researchers are working on ways to build more color, resolution and computing power into these lenses. Yet, even with just a handful of pixels, researchers believe future lenses could communicate short emails, text messages and navigational information. Someone wearing more powerful lenses could also, someday, look at a store and see a Yelp Monocle-style overlay of information. “If such displays were successfully deployed, they would fundamentally change the nature of interaction between humans and visual information,” note researchers in their paper.

Don’t go shopping for super contact lenses just yet. The researchers only built a one blue pixel display and also found that the natural conditions of a living eye dramatically diminish the lenses’ ability to hold power. Surely a problem they can overcome, but it could be quite a few years before we’re all walking around with super eyes.

Terminator Contact Lens Up Close

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More About: contact lenses, display, displays, lenses, trending

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Two porn firms, including the company that runs Playboy’s website, have filed a lawsuit against ICM Registry over the creation of the .XXX top-level domain name. The firms claim that the names are too expensive — up to 6x the cost of registering a standard domain name — and a form of digital segregation.

Find out more about the lawsuit in the video above and let us know if you support or reject the creation of the .XXX domain in the comments.

More About: Domain Names, mashable video, porn, trending

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Brian Casel is the founder of CasJam Media, a web design shop that works with clients worldwide designing custom WordPress CMS sites. Connect with Brian on Twitter @CasJam.

For those of us who work with WordPress every day, it has been exciting to watch our beloved content management system evolve over the years from a blogging tool into a web publishing powerhouse.

Today we take a look at the all new WordPress 3.3, which after months of beta testing, is expected to be released in late November.

SEE ALSO: Top 4 Ecommerce Tools for WordPress

Compared to the milestone WordPress 3.0 release — which introduced important new functionalities, such as custom post types and built-in multisite mode — version 3.3’s improvements may seem less groundbreaking. But, in fact, the impact of this release may be felt by more people than ever.

Most of the improvements are aimed toward improving the user experience for all users, not just those of us building WordPress websites. Your clients will immediately see the changes in 3.3, which are bound to improve their experience too.

Here are the major improvements coming to WordPress 3.3.

1. Redesigned Admin Bar

The redesigned admin bar brings a handful of strategic enhancements.

There are less links/elements shown, and the ones that remain are carefully placed for a reason. The search box and appearance menu were removed, and the user menu moved to the right side, similar to Google’s user bar.

By making it a shade darker and bolder, the admin bar is now more prominent in the WordPress back-end.

Click here to view this gallery.


Other Noteworthy Improvements in WordPress 3.3


Now that we’ve covered the most visible improvements, here are some under-the-hood enhancements, particularly of interest to developers.

  • Responsive Layout: This is really just setting the groundwork for a fully responsive layout, which is expected in version 3.4. But in WordPress 3.3, the left side menu automatically collapses on smaller screens.
  • Postname Permalinks: Before you had to set /%postname%/ as your custom permalinks setting, but now it’s a selectable option. More importantly, performance issues have been fixed, so this setting is now usable for sites that have a large number of posts and pages.
  • jQuery 1.7 and jQuery UI 1.8.16: Updated jQuery and now the full jQuery UI toolset are now packaged and ready to be enqueued in WordPress 3.3.
  • WordPress Editor API: Plugin developers can now customize the post editor, including the TinyMCE buttons. You can even add additional editors.

  • Get Updated!


    As always, it’s recommended to get your sites updated to the latest version of WordPress as soon as it’s available, so keep an eye out for the release, and get ready to start digging into these great new features!

    More About: contributor, features, Tech, trending, upgrades, Web Development, WordPress

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Google, PayPal, Visa, American Express — they’ve all jumped on the mobile digital wallet train as a way to usher in commerce through their electronic platforms and reinvent how people pay for items and services. With more than 100 million users of its virtual purse, PayPal predicts the physical wallet will cease to be carried by the year 2015. And as digital currency transactions begin to proliferate the consumer market, merging opportunities for non-profits to create more successful fundraising campaigns with corporate sponsors are ripe for the taking.

In the same vein that online donation destinations and text-to-give initiatives, like MobileCause, have raised millions for natural disaster relief, mobile digital wallets can be used to make contributions at any digitally connected businesses that promote philanthropic programs. The seamless transactional value of digital wallets is extremely convenient for donors and organizations. Many people interested in donating to a cause through a website may be concerned with having to enter their contact and credit card information or with receiving follow-up phone calls that some text-to-give campaigns require in order for financial information to be verified.

The luxury of mobile digital wallets is that they contain all of that information in one protected place, which eliminates any multistep process that may deter prospective charitable gifts. Just as phone carriers facilitate SMS donations, players in the digital wallet space can partner with retailers and brands to promote and expedite transactions for social good. In addition to circumventing the aforementioned issues, mobile wallets can potentially send alert messages, reminding people to make donations with nothing more than a tap on their smartphones.

One of the biggest issues a number of fundraising efforts and charities face when it comes to mobile giving is the enormous decrease in attention to a cause as soon as buzz of a tragic incident or big campaign begins to die down. By partnering with mobile digital wallet providers, non-profits could foreseeably seek micro-donations from users on a regular basis. Since a number of people around the world have their checking accounts set up to allocate electronic funds on a monthly basis, why couldn’t the same concept be applied to digital currency for non-profits?


The Major Players


For a deeper understanding of philanthropic possibilities via mobile wallet, here’s a look at four of the major platforms.

Google Wallet: Using near-field communication (UNFC) technology, the Google Wallet mobile app enables shoppers to make payments by waving their smartphones over cash register scanners. With Google Wallet, checking out at a brick-and-mortar store becomes nothing more than tapping a phone at the point of purchase. On the charitable front, retailers could team up with Google, brands, non-profits, or all three, to process donations made at check out registers.

PayPal: PayPal has joined the competition in the physical retail world by developing a way for consumers to pay for products by entering their mobile phone numbers along with a pin number. PayPal also happens to be trusted by many non-profit users for processing credit card payments and checking transactions. Perhaps, the same organizations that have already-existing PayPal relationships could use PayPal’s answer to the digital wallet for processing and receiving funds.

Visa’s V.me: Visa’s solution to the virtual wallet, V.me, allows users to connect to other monetary sources, such as credit cards, and make payments without ever giving the seller any personal information, thus making online mobile purchases quick, easy and secure. All consumers have to do to make a transaction is sign into V.me with their username and password. Visa is also rolling out an innovative product designed to enable cellphone users in the developing world to make mobile payments.

American Express’ Serve: American Express has dished out it own version of the digital wallet with Serve. Using Amex’s security and data systems, Serve makes digital transactions possible by bringing multiple payment options together into a single account that can be funded by bank accounts, debit cards and charge cards. The American Express Members Give program connects people to one million different non-profits and allows Amex cardholders to make recurring donations throughout the year. Imagine how much more tractions the campaign would get if it enabled users to donate via Serve?

Ultimately, all of these mobile wallet services have the ability to empower corporate social responsibility initiatives as well as amplify the fundraising efforts of non-profits that have aligned missions.

Overall, any currency trends that penetrate the digital consumer market can be adopted by fundraisers worldwide, and non-profits who take advantage of the increase and potential of mobile wallet transactions will see their charitable giving numbers rise equally as high.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, coreay

More About: american express, corporate social responsibility, google wallet, mobile payments, non-profits, paypal, Social Good, Visa

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Ice Cream Sandwich Demo

Just days after Google released its latest Ice Cream Sandwich platform for Android to developers, Nvidia is offering a sneak preview of what the updated mobile OS looks like on a tablet.

Nvidia released a promotional video of Ice Cream Sandwich running on an Asus Transformer Prime tablet, powered by quad-core Tegra 3. The demo highlights various new features offered by Ice Cream Sandwich, including a seamless transition swipe between the apps and widgets menu and the ability to drag and drop icons onto one another to create a folder.

The clip also showcases Ice Cream Sandwich’s sleek video playback with 1080p capabilities and how it beautifully handles the graphics-rich Riptide GP game.

Tablet makers are now confronted with the task of developing devices with Ice Cream Sandwich that can better compete with the iPad.

What are your first impressions of Ice Cream Sandwich on a tablet? Is this the update that will finally give Android tablets the ammo they need to really challenge the iPad?

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Social Media News

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

HTC Working on Facebook-Integrated Phone

Facebook is working with HTC to develop a phone that is much more deeply integrated with the social network than any previous “Facebook phones,” according to multiple reports.

HP Earnings Beat Expectations

HP earned $1.17 per share on fourth-quarter revenue of $32.3 billion, down from $1.33 per share on revenue of $33.3 billion from the same period last year, but above analysts’ forecast of $1.13 per share. The company’s fiscal 2012 earnings forecast was modest, at just above $4 per share.

BlackBerry PlayBook Price Slashed to $199

RIM has cut the cost of the struggling BlackBerry PlayBook tablet to $199 from its original retail price of $499.

Ads Arrive in Facebook News Ticker

As promised, Facebook has begun featuring sponsored stories in the news ticker.

Penguin Pulls Out of Ebook Lending

Citing security concerns, Penguin has opted out of Kindle’s lending program and begun removing existing ebooks from libraries.

Further News

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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