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Published Feb. 11, 2014 on Mashable

On Jan. 27, 2011, “#selfie” was born. Just over three years later, there are more than 75 million Instagram photos tagged #selfie and a National #Selfie Portrait Gallery. Furthermore, Oxford Dictionary crowned “selfie” its 2013 Word of the Year after being officially added in August.

Its social media spotlight focused a lot of hatred toward selfies. Some critics cry narcissism, others complain about duckface and cringe at the inappropriate placessome people feel compelled to take selfies (okay, that one’s valid).

SEE ALSO: 11 Vintage Selfies Too Fabulous for Filters

As people explore the limits and extraordinary possibilities of selfies every day, it’s time to realize those single-subject pics won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

#Sorrynotsorry, selfie haters.

Selfies have been around for ages.

Nope, think way before MySpace default photos and its characteristic angles. Before the camera self-timer. Before cameras.

In the 15th century, self-portraiture allowed artists to control the images and versions of themselves the public saw. During the Renaissance, commissioned portraiture was standard practice among the era’s elites, a status symbol.

Today, people carry high-definition cameras in their pockets, making it possible to snap photos of themselves whenever, wherever. The selfie barrier to entry is no longer the wealth, time and privilege of a French monarch. The selfie game is close to a level playing field, so go out and play, Marie Antoinette.

A picture’s worth a thousand words.

NASA selfie

Image from NASA

Remember your high school English teacher’s favorite essay critique, “show not tell?” That’s what selfies do.

Read more about why selfies are a great thing on Mashable

Published Feb. 2, 2014 on Mashable

If pressing play on a shuffled playlist isn’t enough for you, it’s time to step up to the DJ deck.

With these music mixing apps, you can loop, cue, crossfade, pitch-shift and more to remix your digital library. Even apps for tablets and smartphones are in the mix for on-the-go editing, which is especially helpful when you’re out and the current playlist isn’t cutting it (with the host’s approval of course; Mashable does not endorse party playlist mutiny).

SEE ALSO: 13 Best Free Audio Editors

While Ableton — the professional-grade software used by many of your favorite producers and DJs — will run you close to $500, these apps won’t drain your iTunes gift card balance, and some are even free.

Once you get the hang of mixing, record and upload your mixes to a service such asMixcloud, and join its community of amateur and professional DJs. Also, consider investing in a MIDI DJ controller. It will be pricier than the software, but the ability to fiddle with actual knobs will let you be more adventurous — no more worrying the mouse will disastrously slip while adjusting the tempo.

Soon, you too can be an amateur iPad DJ like the ones from HBO’s Girls.

1. Djay

djay

With an unintimidating, clutter-free interface, Djay is a great tool for both beginners and seasoned mixers. The turntable design shows off album art for an attractive setup, and leaves out unnecessary buttons and cheesy effects. Have fun clicking around and testing out features to get comfortable, and experiment with transition ideas to vary your mixes.

Price: $19.99
Compatibility: Mac, iOS (Djay 2 is an iPad and iPhone app for $9.99 and $1.99, respectively.)

Read more on Mashable

Published Nov. 7, 2013 on Mashable

TweetDeck‘s development path might look more like a roller coaster than the typical incline, but it’s for good reason. After Twitter bought the app in 2011, TweetDeck pulled support for various social networks — most recently Facebook — and dropped its mobile apps in order to focus on its core purpose in desktop form: Twitter.

Social media managers and casual tweeters alike can benefit from TweetDeck’s organizational tools, such as customizable columns, multiple account toggling and scheduling. With a modern, clean design and automatically refreshing feeds, TweetDeck’s utility comes in its simplicity and ease in setting up.

SEE ALSO: 6 Clever Tricks for Social Media Managers

Here’s how to get started on TweetDeck. Soon your personal and professional Twitter troubles will be long gone.

Setting Up

Instead of connecting via Twitter.com, you’ll need to download the app and create a separate TweetDeck account. You’ll be able to connect Twitter accounts from there.

Then, decide if the Chrome web app or the Windows or Mac desktop apps suit your style.

TweetDeck Add Account

Connect as many Twitter accounts as you’d like through Settings, located in the left sidebar. However, make sure you’re aware of which account you set as your default to avoid accidentally brunch tweeting from your company’s official account.

If you hate scrolling up your feed for the latest tweets, TweetDeck can do that for you. For an automatically updating feed, make sure to check the “Stream tweets in real time” setting under the General section.

Also in Settings, you can make TweetDeck even more easy on the eyes with appearance options: light and dark color schemes; larger or smaller font sizes; and wider or thinner columns.

Learn more about TweetDeck on Mashable

Published Oct. 17, 2013 on Mashable

Digital music might not have the same allure as sitting down to listen to a record on your turntable, but what it lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for in convenience — especially when you aren’t home with your collection.

It’s been five years since Spotify publicly launched and shifted the music industry’s focus toward streaming as a way to combat illegal downloading. While the streaming business model is far from perfect, even the most casual music fan should test out streaming while it’s still growing.

SEE ALSO: How Spotify Engineered the New Music Economy

If you’re just dipping your toe into the stream, follow our beginner’s guide and soon you’ll be listening to Spotify’s massive library without the worry of losing precious hard drive space.

Signing Up

As with most services, you can register for Spotify by connecting your Facebookaccount for optimal social features, or create an account with your email address.

Pick the subscription that suits your music habits. The prices are in USD, but the tiers are the same internationally: No cost will get you desktop listening interrupted by ads; $4.99 per month allows for unlimited desktop streaming; users who pay the premium $9.99 per month can listen on all desktop (via desktop app or web player) and mobile devices with offline syncing privileges on mobile (Spotify Radio is the only free mobile feature.)

Users at the premium tier can also listen to music at a higher bit rate, which is essential for anyone who has quality headphones or earbuds.

Spotify Privacy

Before you start listening, check your preferences and privacy settings to make sure you are sharing as much or as little with the world as you’d like. If you connected your Spotify to Facebook but don’t want to broadcast your tunes on your News Feed, uncheck the Facebook sharing option. Leave the Spotify sharing section checked to show up in your followers’ feeds — this amplifies Spotify’s social music discovery potential.

This page is important because you can choose whether or not to make your playlists viewable to the public as soon as you start, or make it public on your own terms. Also, you can opt-out of Spotify showing your top artists and tracks on your public profile, if you aren’t one to brag about such things. Plus, you can connect your Spotify account toLast.fm so your scrobbles stay representative.

Organizing Your Music

Library and Local Files

In the left sidebar, you will find your Collection. Here, you can access local files (go to Preferences to manage the folders from which Spotify can import files) and music saved to playlists. The Library section puts all of this music in one place. By accessing the files found on your hard drive, Spotify acts as a one-stop shop for listening to all your music, meaning you don’t have to open iTunes or another player.

Read more about getting started with Spotify on Mashable

Published Sept. 25, 2013 on Mashable

It’s easy to get stuck in a music rut. That go-to iTunes playlist or Pandora station will probably do the trick, but with so much great music out there, why settle for the same old favorites?

The infinite catalog of music, new and old, is a both a blessing and a curse. While music fans unfortunately have to accept that they will never be able to listen to every band, album or song, retreating to the comfort of your personal music library is no way to find your next favorite artist.

Spotify‘s latest curation features, Browse and Discover, are a push in the right direction, and Rdio integrates music discovery into its top-notch app with subtle recommendations from listeners in your network placed all over the player.

These streaming services’ social features aren’t the only ways to discover new music, but they tap into what’s key about successful music suggestions today: social curation.

If you are on the lookout for new tunes, try these seven websites and apps that are perfect for social music discovery.

How do you find new music? Share your method in the comments.

1. Mixcloud

Mixcloud

Instead of finding individual songs and artists, on Mixcloud you’ll find mixes and radio shows by DJs — both amateur and professional — that weave in and out of genres and styles. In the end, it brings you music you might never have heard otherwise.

Search for mixes by tag (genre or artist name will usually do the trick, but tags can get fairly creative) or follow users to find out when they upload, favorite or listen to a new mix. Recommended users include FACT Magazine Mix ArchiveDiplo and Friends on BBC1 and The Quietus.

After you press play on the mix, all the work on your end is done. If you enjoyed the mix, poke around the page to find the tracklisting, genre tags, sidebars with recommended people to follow, other mixes listeners enjoyed, and a similar mix that is already queued up for your listening pleasure.

Learn more about This Is My Jam, Last.fm and other music discovery websites and apps on Mashable

Published Sept. 18, 2013 on Mashable

Juggling multiple social media accounts across several networks can get hectic, especially when there’s a fine line between a manageable number of browser tabs and a terrible guessing game.

Self-respecting social media addicts should test the many management tools available, and they will find HootSuite to be among the best to streamline sharing for work and play. Users can conserve precious tab space by connecting their TwitterFacebookGoogle+ (pages only), LinkedInFoursquareWordPress and Mixi accounts under the HootSuite umbrella, and take advantage of the convenient scheduling feature.

If you’re looking to up your social media game, or just to make life a little easier at work or home, here’s how to get started with HootSuite.

Getting Organized

Once you set up an account and log in, HootSuite will guide you through the basics of connecting networks and organizing streams.

HootSuite Stream Menu

The green menu tab displays the networks connected to your HootSuite account. From there, select the streams you’d like to monitor, such as your timeline, mentions and scheduled tweets.

The stream options vary for each network (for example, Facebook’s options include News Feed, statuses, events and Wall posts), but the simple, no-frills layout remains the same.

HootSuite Streams

HootSuite is optimized for managing Twitter accounts, but you can also post to your personal Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, as well as to pages and groups of which you’re a member or administrator. HootSuite will not connect to personal Google+ profiles, but it allows you to manage your pages.

For free accounts, HootSuite initially limits each tab to only three streams, but opening multiple tabs seems to override that rule. Even so, streams are so easily closed, reopened and refreshed that the initial limit is only a minor annoyance. There are no rules against limiting one Twitter account to one tab.

Learn more about getting set up on HootSuite on Mashable

Published Aug. 5, 2013 on Mashable

You can learn a lot about a person by browsing her record collection, scrolling through her iTunes library or checking out her playlists. Listening to music is a highly personal experience, and one of the perks of streaming is finding the one that best fits your music style.

On first impression, Rdio and Spotify seem identical. Through either, you can access a massive library of music, pick a song or album and listen at will, at price points of $5 (unlimited desktop listening) or $10 (unlimited desktop and mobile app streaming, plus offline syncing).

SEE ALSO: How We Discover New Music

That’s where the similarities end. Rdio feels especially geared towards fans hooked on music discovery, with its bright, clean interface and a smooth, organized experience.

For those just getting into the streaming game, Mashable created this beginner’s guide to kickstart your Rdio experience.

Setting Up

There’s no need to download a native desktop app first — sign up directly on rdio.com. The Rdio web player is identical to the OS X and Windows desktop apps, convenient for listening when not at your usual computer. You can sign up through Rdio via your Facebook account or create an Rdio account.

rdio-settings-tab

The drop-down menu in the top-right corner is your customization guide. From here, click “Apps” to learn about the desktop, web, mobile and accessory apps that suit your devices. “Settings” will help you manage your subscription, connect external accounts, edit personal info and opt in or out of email notifications.

The subscription models mirror Spotify’s, with a $5 unlimited desktop and browser streaming option and a $10 level that also includes unlimited mobile streaming plus offline syncing on mobile. However, Rdio’s free version, while ad-free, has a mysterious cap on how much you can listen to before it cuts you off, measured by an ambiguous meter that adapts to your listening habits.

rdio-free-music-meter

Also under the settings “External” tab, connect your Rdio profile to your Facebook and Twitter accounts — it will pull a profile image and save you that extra step. Key feature: Last.fm compatibility. Connect your Last.fm account to Rdio and make sure your scrobbles stay up to date. Once you’ve linked your Rdio account, it stays connected if you log in via another computer’s native app or browser. This differs from Spotify, which requires you to re-enter your Last.fm credentials in order to scrobble songs from each new computer browser and app.

Music Discovery

Rdio’s gorgeous, bright white interface contrasts with colorful album art — it’s the music discovery version of a candy store. Don’t let Rdio’s minimal number of left sidebar browsing tabs fool you — “Heavy Rotation,” “New Releases,” “Top Charts” and “Recent Activity” are all it takes to find your next favorite album.

Continue learning about Rdio’s music discovery capabilities, new radio feature, mobile app and more here.