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Determining the Nation’s Happiness with Twitter
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You may recall Facebook’s Gross National Happiness project, in which status updates throughout the social network are monitored for positive words to give an idea of how happy people are in general.

Facebook Hits its 500 Million Mark, Launches Stories App
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Facebook was expected to announce that it reached 500 million users this week, and sure enough, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced it today.

Facebook has also launched a new app called Facebook Stories. This lets users share and read hundreds of stories about how they’ve used Facebook, categorized by themes and locations around the world.

Borders Launches Online Textbook Marketplace

Borders has launched a new "Textbook Marketplace" that allows users to buy and sell new and used textbooks.

The Marketplace features more than 1.4 million titles including a selection of used textbooks at a savings of up to 90 percent. Users can also earn cash via the site’s used textbook buyback option.

"College students spend nearly $1,000 each year on textbooks according to some estimates. That’s a sizable financial burden for students and families, especially in this challenging economic climate," said Borders CEO Mike Edwards.

Google Improves Border Accuracy in Google Maps
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Google has launched some improvements to its borders for over 60 countries and regions in Google Maps (coming to Google Earth soon).

Webmasters Complain About New Google Image Search
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It’s very rare that a major website launches any kind of redesign without any complaints from users. Google is no stranger to this itself, and it should come as no surprise that this week’s launch of the new Google Image Search has come with its own share of complaints (although I’d be surprised if the complaints outweighed the positive opinions).

Google Ventures Invests in Search Marketing Firm Trada
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Google Ventures has invested in a paid search marketing firm called Trada. Google Ventues has invested $5.75 million in Trada, along with Foundry Group, which previously invested $2.2 million in the company.

Bing’s New Webmaster Tools Are Here
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At SMX Advanced last month, Microsoft announced that Bing would redesign its Webmaster Tools this summer. The new version is now available.

Bing Webmaster Tools Senior Product Manager Anthony M. Garcia summarizes the changes:

MySpace And MTV To Feature Live Comic-Con Coverage

MySpace and MTV.com are partnering to bring live streaming coverage of celebrities at Comic-Con.

Starting Thursday, July 22, daily live shows will be hosted by MTV Movies Editor Josh Horowitz and will stream on MySpace and MTV’s homepage. Users will be able to post comments and questions in real-time for a chance to have celebrities answer live.

 

Google Increases Bounty On Chrome Bugs

Don’t be surprised if any security researchers you know start canceling meetings and spending more lunches at their computers.  Google’s set out to attract their attention by increasing the maximum reward for finding a Chrome bug to $3,113.70.

Twitter @earlybird Account Teaches Us a Lesson in Tweet Proofreading
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A couple weeks ago, Twitter unveiled its @earlybird account, which is designed to provide followers with exclusive deals from the company’s advertising partners and other businesses. Last week, the account got into full swing, as it tweeted its first deal from Disney.

Yahoo Comes Up Shy With Q2 Earnings Report

However else Yahoo’s shareholders may feel about the company’s financial situation, they can perhaps take comfort in the idea that Carol Bartz won’t be wasting lots of money on champagne and confetti today.  Yahoo’s second quarter earnings report didn’t contain much news the CEO could celebrate.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg May or May Not Have Signed a Contract
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You may recall last week when reports came out about some guy who claimed to own the majority of Facebook. Paul Ceglia claimed to own an 84% stake in the company, saying that CEO Mark Zuckerberg signed a contract with him in 2004.

The timing described didn’t appear to line up with common accounts of the founding of the company (such as the one in the book Accidental Billionaires – the basis for the upcoming David Fincher film The Social Network).

Apple Posts Record Quarter at $15.7 Billion

Apple has released its third quarter financial results. This reflects fiscal 2010 third quarter ended June 26, 2010.

The company boasted record revenue of $15.7 billion and net quarterly profit of $3.25 billion. This compares to a year ago, when Apple reported revenue of $9.73 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.83 billion.

Reddit Sets a Price for “Gold” Version that it Used to Ask for Donations With
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Last week, Reddit announced Reddit Gold, a paid version of its service that would cost whatever users were willing to pay. This was essentially Reddit’s way of asking for donations to help with its operating costs, and giving those donors a little something extra.

It didn’t take long for Reddit to declare the initiative a triumph, saying, "We’re getting a much-needed cash infusion."

5 Current Social Media Stories That Mean Good Things For Your Business
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There are too many happenings everyday in the social media space for any single business owner to keep up with. Today’s web is fast, and very, very innovative. The production never slows down. New tools and integrations are launched seemingly every other minute.

While I’d encourage you to sift through the headlines and social media app directories on a regular basis, I’ve put together a few currently unfolding storylines with big implications for business owners.

Microsoft Launches Limited Beta of New Security Essentials

Microsoft announced the beta for its next version of Microsoft Security Essentials today. Among the new features are:

Microsoft Announces Kinect Pricing for November 4 Release

Microsoft announced today that the Kinect for Xbox 360 will include Kinect Sensor and the video game "Kinect Adventures," and that it will retail for $149.99 when it launches November 4 in North America. The Kinect Sensor will work with all Xbox 360 consoles (of which 40 million have been sold, according to the company).

Google Director Challenges Jobs On Mobile Search
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It doesn’t look like the rift between Apple and Google is going to heal anytime soon, at least where the mobile market is concerned.  Today at the paidContent Mobile Conference, one relatively high-ranking Googler used the word "bullshit" to describe Steve Jobs’s ideas about mobile search, and also hinted at taking on iAds.

Skype Gives Businesses “Click & Call” Ads to Place Around the Web
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Google’s not the only company to offer a new ad format today. Skype introduced its new Click & Call ads, supported by Marchex. Skype says Click & Call Advertising provides an efficient and measurable way to acquire new customers by using Skype to drive inbound calls.

More Marketers Turning To Digital Media For Brand Building

More marketers are using digital media to sell and build stronger relationships with their customers according to a new report from the Direct Marketing Association and David Shepard Associates.

Google Indexes Over 10 Billion Images
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Google launched a new version of its image search today (as well as a new ad format) and in the announcement, Google dropped a few interesting stats about its image search growth.

Google Image Search first came out in 2001. Back then, Google says it indexed around 250 million images. By 2005, the company says it indexed over a billion. As of today, it’s over 10 billion.

Google Launches New Image Search Ads

Google began rolling out a new design for its image search today, and along with that came a new ad format. The format is called (appropriately) Image Search Ads.

Google Apps Gets User Policy Management Feature
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After launching multi-domain support a couple weeks ago, Google has now launched user policy management for Google Apps. These features are designed to give IT administrators greater control and flexibility within Google Apps, the company says.

Google Tells FTC a Hot News Doctrine Would Hurt Journalism
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Last month the Federal Trade Commission published its staff discussion draft of potential policy recommendations to "support the reinvention of journalism." Those potential recommendations have been the subject of a fair amount of controversy throughout the industry.