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unii.jpgPesky parents. In the good old days students could get up to whatever they wanted to at Uni safe in the knowledge that their parents would remain unaware of their midnight spin dryer riding habits (or was that just me?), and much worse.

Now though thanks to the wonders of Facebook drunken images are often accompanied by a cheery comment next day from a parent advising on hangover cures - or even worse disparaging comments and suggestions that you need to get back to your studies.

So what do you do? Well maybe use Facebook for nice shots of you in the library and post all your interesting stuff on a site that your parents can't see - like Unii a new social network for students which has just launched.

Its makers claims that uni is a place for experimenting and embracing new found freedom, so the last thing students want is their parents checking up on their every move. To prove the point they have commissioned a survey which discovered that over half of British dads confess to checking up on their kids via Facebook at least once a month

So with Unii, you need a university email address in order to sign up, which is perfect unless of course your mum is an academic.

The site has plenty of Facebook style networking facilities as well as places to post those oh so embarrassing night before photos and loads more. It laos has a serious aim too and feature a comprehensive jobs board showing the latest internship placements, helping students to find their first crucial placement when or before they graduate.The site is here.

gladitaor.jpgThe thing about corporate websites is that they tend to be a little bit dull, a few corporate head shots here, a yawn of a mission statement there. It is not surprising that most of us tend to switch off and head towards Buzzfeed.

Except that there is one company that is desperate to turn the tide in corporate communications and add a little colour, flair and elan. A company whose pioneering approach could revolutionise B2B websites in the future and that is Arvanitakis Water Services Limited from the Ukraine.

Nope, not for them a home page devoted to an iffy video of non-media savvy CEO lisping his way through company policy. They have got a huge Gladiator chap with an over-active sword and a sparkling shield to protect every page of their website.

And you can forget about subtle corporate colours, Arvanitakis is a riot of blues and greens all there to make the most of the not really that subtle user navigation logos. There's no chance of getting lost here.

And forget too fancy infographics that are chocka with senseless corporate speak. Arvanitakis has lots of big pictures of its paper production water mill plant complete with state of the art and very funky looking cooling towers.

All this is accompanied by some magnificent stirring semi-classical music and the genius tagline

'When you are in troubles for the protection of your systems, we have the solution for you!'

If only all corporate sites were made this way.

Check it out in all its awesomeness here.

In case you haven't noticed Mad Men is back on our tellies and once again it has sparked an excellent round of parodies.

Now I always thought that Don Draper was a bit of a dirty dog and some clever people have taken that link to its logical extension here with a very clever Mad Men animated intro featuring canines.

It is really rather clever. Looking forward to seeing their creative for Winalot then.Just no one mention smoking Beagles...

times-nexus.jpgI have always thought that one day publishers would start offering tablets for free as long as you subscribed to their packages. Well, we aren't there yet, but things are moving in that direction.

The Times has announced that it is offering a special deal to potential readers and that if they sign up for their Digital Pack - basically The Times and Sunday Times downloaded each day to a tablet, plus full website access and the smartphone app - they would throw in a device for £50. In this instance it is is the Google Nexus 32 gig version.

Usually the tablet costs around £200, so that would mean £150 off the tablet's price.

I think this is just the start. It would make so much sense for say Amazon to offer a free Kindle provided you agreed to spend a certain amount of money on books each year - think a Spotify type subscription.

Then there are other magazine publishers who could in theory offer cheaper tablets as an incentive to pay for yearly subs too. It makes so much sense - if they want to ensure that their tablet readerships goes up why not offer readers a tablet?

I don't think you will be getting a free iPad with your Daily Star just yet, but if you are thinking about buying a tablet it might be worth seeing if you can get it free or cheap with some great content too.

mysocilpetrowk.jpgSo you have loads of fun on Facebook chatting away to your pals - so why shouldn't your pooch or kitty keep in touch with their friends in the same way? That's the theory behind a new UK based site that is set to launch very soon.

My Social Petwork enables you to create a profile for your pet and then pretty much do a load of the stuff you can do on Facebook - but for them. So you can share pictures, add posts, follow new canine chums/feline friends as well as tag images, heart other pets, send private messages and so on.

It isn't only going to be cats and dogs either. The site's owners are hoping that people with more exotic pets will use the site as a way of ensuring their Chinchillas and Iguanas don't get lonely.

It works like Facebook too so you get a homepage that features all the latest news and pics keeping you up to date on who has fleas and who is heading for the doghouse I guess.

Apparently we are doing all this stuff already on Facebook anyhow. The site's research shows that as many as 20% post pics of our animals on the social networking site.

Anyway the site is taking registrations now and will launch shortly.


Thumbnail image for sleepigdogsthuimb.jpgI only ask because the website unveiled its Guardian Witness project this week. It is a section in the website where readers can share their images and videos to help supplement the stories produced by Guardian journos.

So far so good.

It works with the paper giving the reader assignments - so you can send in your images of Thatcher's funeral, shots of your fave albums for Record Store Day etc.

Except of course that not even The Guardian can resist the power of (coughs) pet based photography.

For at the time of writing while 40 people have sent in images of the ex-PM's final journey and 31 have sent representations of what government cuts mean to them - over 300 have submitted images of sleeping dogs!

guardianwitness.jpgIt is the eternal dilemma now for the world's serious press. Publish stuff online that you know people want to look at (pets pictures, football gossip, funny virals) or use the web to educate and inform people and get them to contribute to the debate. I know which one drives traffic and ad views...

Still, check it out - it is a lovely idea.


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In a not very surprising move The Sun has today confirmed that as from the second half of 2013 it will be charging people to see its content online.

Before the start of the next football season it is to introduce a paywall and users will have to pay a certain amount of money per month to read its stories and watch its videos.

The August date is significant as it will be the first time that the paper will be able to show clips of goals and match highlights from the Premier League.

News International, which owns The Sun, already has several papers behind a paywall including The Times. At the moment users pay £2 a week to subscribe to the website or £4 a week if they want to also acess the iPad version.

Quoted in The Guardian Mike Darcey, the chief executive of News International, said the parent company's current position - which allowed millions of readers to get the Sun's content for free - was "untenable".

It isn't the only paper that has announced its intention to charge readers for stories. The Daily Telegraph has also confirmed that it will shortly introduce a metered paywall system. It will allow telegraph.co.uk users free access to 20 online articles a month. After that, readers will be charged £1.99 a month (or £20 a year) for access to further online content and to the Telegraph's smartphone apps. There will also be a full digital pack, which includes access to Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph content on tablet devices plus loyalty club membership for £9.99 a month (or £99 per year).

The move has already sparked off a big debate on Twitter about whether The Guardian should follow its two rivals and erect a paywall. At the moment you pay £9.99 for its iPad app enabled edition per month, but the website is still free.

The issues for The Guardian, and in fact all the papers, is that they are having to manage declining revenues from their printed publications as fewer people buy the physical versions. Also advertisers are increasingly favouring online ads, and in some instances creating their own content and seeding it via social media, over print ads.

The downside of erecting a paywall is that the number of people who read content on the site collapses. There was a rumour not that long ago which hinted that brands weren't targeting The Times as it had so few online readers.

In their defence papers behind paywalls often point to the quality of the readers they have, in that they are loyal and committed to the paper and its values and not just dipping in and out of the site via a search query.

So what can papers do if they don't want to charge?

One route is to be ultra populist in the stories they run. The Daily Mail is now the most read newspaper website in the world largely because of its never ending run of celeb based stories. Its proprietors looked at the success of sites like DMZ, Popsugar and Perez Hilton and replicated that type of content but produced lots more of it. The Mail has always suggested that its massive online circulation means that its website is at the very least making up for revenues lost as its print edition declines.

The problem for The Mail though is that as much as it would like to convice advertisers it is a serious paper with a large number of readers exploring its higher value content, most of its readers are in fact checking out Taylor Swift's latest outfits.

The other problem for any UK paper, as opposed to US ones, is the elephant in the room aka the BBC news website.

If Britons want to find out the latest news they have that site - which is funded via the licence fee - as an option. This means that to get people to pay for their content newspapers need to offer much more than just news.

The Guardian, for example, has been successful in niches, for example its music/style/environment pages. But it has also struggled to compete in other areas such the tech space where it faces a huge number of rivals.

Many publishers now see video as the key, including The Sun, but what kind of video content are people going to pay for? Even the most attractive - football - isn't actually that compelling a proposition. Are people really going to pay a monthly subscription to access the site on the strength of some Premiership goals and highlights that will be available elsewhere on the web (possibly not legally...).

Ultimately it is a matter of making the sums add up.

As for The Guardian, it has a huge online readership, a good deal of loyalty from its older readers (I do wonder if anyone under the age of 25 has any real loyalty to a newspaper now) and some of the best content on the web. However it is committed for now to staying free for readers.

The problem is that as it has re-shaped its editorial output over the past few years (with a significant cut in the number of journalists) some pundits have suggested that the standard and influence of its content had declined. Personally I think it needs to follow The Times and institute a paywall sooner rather then later and focus on a paid for future with a significant chunk of that income being invested in its content creation. If it leaves it many more years it may find that fewer people feel loyal enough to the paper to actually pay a subscription.

So would you pay for a subscription charge to read a paper?

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In case you haven't yet heard the news Buzzfeed, that American site so beloved of people who like kittens behaving badly, has launched a UK edition today.

Now, UK flavoured versions of US sites haven't always gone down well over here. The Huffington Post UK got a bit of a pasting when it first arrived though it has since settled a bit and become part of the UK media scene.

So I was very sceptical about Buzzfeed UK? How many cats with British accents are there?

I really shouldn't have worried. Edited by former NME.com editor Luke Lewis Buzzfeed is a tour de force of all things British - which almost certainly wouldn't have made the original version of the site.

Where else would you be able to see 15 Orangutans That Look Like Boris Johnson or 21 Weirdly Angry Mail Online Commenters (well except on the Daily Mail but you would spend all day compiling them).

Not everything is quite as inspired. The 27 Extraordinary Facts About The London Underground seems like a parade of quotes from Wikipedia accompanied by shots from Flickr - which invariably aren't relevant to the station that is being posted about.

Also where the ferret is the footy stuff?

But it is early days, and if Lewis and his team can keep up this standard then Buzzfeed UK is going to be an absolute hoot.

It is fascinating too in that it provides a very real insight into what being British means in 2013 - so we are all about The Daily Mail, Boris Johnson, Marmite, The Tube, David Bowie and Alan Partridge. Is that good? I am not too sure...

Btw when you have checked it out don't forget to take a peek at the newly revamped MSNNowsite which features Becca, once of this parish, Caddy.

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Today the Yahoo team will begin rolling out a revamped version of its homepage, which according to CEO Marissa Mayer, has been developed to be "more intuitive and personal".

The new homepage has all of Yahoo's usual properties, but presents them in a much more slick and streamlined way. There's also an infinite news scroll and more social features, which allow you to see content that's been recommended by your contacts from Twitter and Facebook.

[Image via The Verge]

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The ever-growing popularity of visual sharing platforms like Instagram and Pinterest has turned everyone into a glorified art and design critic and has exposed us to all kinds of weird and wonderful creations. However, when it comes to making purchases and bringing art into our homes, most of us don't really know where to begin and feel intimidated in some specialist stores yet crave more than just a generic print from the likes of Ikea.

Well fear not art newbies, because ArtFinder is a cool new website hoping to change the way people buy art, making the whole process much more accessible and offering anyone affordable investment pieces withouting seeming too pretentious or confusing.

Simply visit the site and search through older, traditional pieces or art from up-and-coming young artists by browsing through subject, price or type of media. You're then presented with a number of photos, prints and paintings in a really easy-to-browse format that's reminiscent of Pinterest or really addictive Tumblr blogs.

Obviously there are plenty of places to buy art online, but Artfinder makes it simple, easy and looks damn good too.



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The mobile phone that costs £7,000 - and it isn't even 4G

Football's 12 top romances - John and Frank, Ronaldo and himself and more

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Cool retro cycling gear from, wait for it, H&M

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monopoly-cat.jpgMonopoly, everyone's favourite selfish, money-grabbing board game, has had a bit of a makeover this week and has replaced the dumb, old iron thing with a brand new token, a KITTY CAT.

That's right, the team at Monopoly HQ (we want to go to there) decided that the dumb, old iron thing was just too dumb and old, so came to the conclusion that it should be replaced with something much better and more current, like a guitar, robot, helicopter, cat or diamond ring. Once it was put out to the vote the cat came out on top (OBVIOUSLY), which now means at Christmas everyone will be arguing about who can be the cat and some poor soul will be left with the lame thimble :(:(:(.

Admittedly people like cats anyway and we're sure if the internet didn't exist (WHAT A TERRIFYING THOUGHT, HOLD US) we'd still be big fans of the furry little mentalists anyway. However, we don't doubt that memes and GIFs and all of the other magical things the internet has brought to us have made them even more popular than ever before.

[Via Jezebel]

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Our love affair with GIFs may be waning a little, but that doesn't mean a good Family Guy or Mean Girls quote won't tickle us on a Wednesday afternoon. Today we've come across Giphy, a search engine solely for the world of the GIF.

Simply type a keyword into the search bar along the top of the screen and you'll be served up a range of different GIFs that are relevant. You can then hover over them to see them in action or click on them to share them elsewhere.

It's a great idea and has taken up a good chunk of our procrastination time today, but you have to be pretty broad with your keywords as some classic GIFs aren't showing up with even the most obvious of terms.

[Via @goulcher]

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All we've spoken about, read about and written about today is Vine. Whether we've been lamenting our terrible camera skills, complaining about boring vines or wondering if we can get away with searching for #porn in the office (you kinda can btw).

It's no surprise that a number of third party tools have cropped up in a matter of hours that admittedly don't look very pretty, but do allow you to stalk away to your heart's content, because FYI all of your vines are completely public (for now at least).

First up is VinePeek, a site that shows you newly posted vines as they're uploaded. It's totally unmoderated and random, so expect everything from someone who doesn't know what the hell they're doing and only produces really lame content to a lot of x-rated porny stuff. In this way it's fascinating but also REALLY creepy.

VineRoulette is a bit different and instead allows you to search vines by entering hashtags, before displaying a grid of relevant (we use that term loosely) results. Again, we can't stress how creepy it is and it definitely makes it feel like we're stalking complete strangers, but WOW is it addictive.

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The other day we were wondering whether we actually need anything but the internet and apps now, surely pens, paper, books and even other pieces of tech, like cameras, printers and scanners are getting a little redundant and antiquated, right? Well today it's pretty much been confirmed for us that we can bin everything other than our phones and laptops, because HelloSign allows you to sign documents without the need for anything other than the interwebz.

The online tool from the makers of HelloFax now exists as a Gmail plug-in, so you can sign documents and send them off straight away without having to print, physically sign them and scan them back in. All you'll need to do is click a link next to an attachment and just hope you can control a mouse a little bit better than I can - check out my smiley attempt above.

Of course there have been digital signature-style apps and services before in the past, but HelloSign is here to make the process even quicker and easier than before.

Check out HelloSign for more information and Gmail plug-in details.

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Over the past few years a lot of interesting questions have been raised about whether what we say online should have serious consequences in the "real world", whether it's Frankie Boyle's crude jokes, a random person poking fun at an athlete or those in the public eye breaking the law by revealing sensitive information.

Here in the UK the laws are still rather blurry and there's no hard and fast rules about what's considered right and wrong. In a way this means there's a lot of confusion, but it also makes sense to take everything on a case by case basis.

Well that definitely isn't the situation in Kenya anymore, as the government has declared it'll be making a commitment to monitor social media and take serious action against those who incite violence or use hateful language.

The decision has been made recently in order to keep an eye on the way people talk about the candidates and political parties involved in the general election that's taking place on the 4th March.

According to The Next Web, the Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communication in the country, Bitange Ndemo, has declared that huge fines and jail terms of up to three years could be issued to those who use "abusive or threatening words on the likes of Facebook and Twitter". This is obviously a one off case for now, but it's interesting that a whole government would look to introduce such a broad brush approach. We just wonder how the Ministry of Information and Communication is looking to define what's "abusive", which is clearly very subjective.

Related: TWITTER: So what can and can't you REALLY say online?

[Via The Next Web]

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Ever since cutesy, crafty virtual pinboard Pinterest became super popular last year we've seen a number of crazy clones, from those that have just blatantly ripped off the idea, to manly Pinterest Gentlement and of course Pinterest for porn sites, like Snatchly and sex.com. However, cat lovers now have their own online haven for silly photos of felines called Catmoji, which works in the same way as Pinterest, with commenting, liking and resharing features all from a similar grid-like design.

Of course the internet is pretty much run by cats anyway, so we're not sure a separate site dedicated solely to them and photos of them is necessary given they're BLOODY EVERYWHERE, but it's still a nice idea for those that just can't get enough of the crazy little balls of fluff.

Check out: catmoji.com

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Virtual pinboard website - and our favourite procrastination destination - Pinterest has made its first acquisition this week by gobbling up recipe sharing and discovery site Punchfork.

Launched in 2011, Punchfork utilises a series of algorithms to recommend recipes to its users based on sharing stats and discussions. The acquisition certainly makes sense for Pinterest, firstly Punchfork looks and works in a similar way with its key focus on imagery and liking and commenting features. It's also clear from a quick browse that lifestyle posts, recipe sharing and foodie tips all make up a huge part of Pinterest, so the acquisition will mean it'll pretty much own that space online.

The dedicated Punchfork community may be a bit sad to learn that the acquisition does mean that Punchfork's website, app and API will soon be shut down, which CEO Jeff Miller has already announced in an email to its members.

[Via Mashable]

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After 75 years in print, children's comic The Dandy has now gone from real life paper to a digital edition today on its anniversary. But should we all be getting excited about its bang up-to-date online transformation or sad that this really does mean the death of the comic?

Developed by Leeds-based Dubit, the new digital Dandy will be a fully interactive motion comic, complete with games and digital pets, which still follows the adventures of characters like Desperate Dan and Keyhole Kate in a panel-by-panel format to stay close to its roots.

Craig Ferguson, Editor of the new Dandy said:

"We all know how popular digital devices have become with children so we're drawing on our traditional heritage and updating our product to make it relevant for today's children.

"With this weekly digital edition, The Dandy is once again blazing a trail by launching a unique, interactive, motion comic. We're giving The Dandy a whole new dimension and bringing a new lease of life to our characters."

Low sales figures and rising costs of printing the paper version of the comic forced publisher DC Thomson to make the move online. However, many have been commenting today that they can't help but feel kids of the future will miss out on the fun of buying and collecting the printed versions they all grew up with. Of course most of them have just been sat in a box under the stairs and haven't been opened since the day they were first purchased, so maybe it's really not really a tragedy we should all be getting worked up about.

Let us know what you think in the comments below, will you miss the comic or feel happy about a future without wasted paper and inky fingers?

Visit www.dandy.com to to check out the new-look comic. Today's "Issue Zero" is available free. Each issue going forward will cost £1.99 with an extra £1.49 needed to access the weeky standard content package update for the full experience. Subscriptions cost £85 a year, with a year's worth of content packages costing £29.99.

Check out: www.Dandy.com

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We've all been there, you log into Facebook (or Pinterest or Twitter or YouTube or insert your other online addiction here) for "just two minutes" to see what everyone's been up to in the hour since you last checked and then suddenly it's 5pm, you've done absolutely nothing all day and you break out into a cold sweat because you're probably a social media psychopath.

Well luckily there are all kinds of apps and services and plugins to stop you becoming a procrastination maniac (FYI, we like StayFocusd and Kitten Block) and our new favourite has to be Productivity Owl.

Productivity Owl is a plug-in for Google Chrome, which doesn't block any website or social network but instead sits there behind them all quietly judging what a terrible human being you are before it pounces and tells you to GET ON WITH YOUR WORK. Of course you can add certain work-related websites to an allowed list, but don't cheat. The owl will know. According to the blurb in the Chrome Web Store you're encouraged to "Ride The Owl", which sounds like some really creepy sex position, but in actual fact means having the owl working all the time and not opening any other browsers but scheduling in free time to look at whatever you please. But you're encouraged to not set up too much free time as the owl will "lose respect for you". We're not sure what that means, but we're kinda scared.

There are lots of plug-ins and things like this already, but we like the fact Productivity Owl is just that, an owl. After all, what better animal to tell you to get back to work than a smug owl. Owls are one of the few members of the animal kingdom that never seem to make mistakes. They just sit in trees being really "judgy", twisting their little heads round to look at that stupid outfit you're wearing and take note of that really impractical choice of shoes.

We don't doubt that setting up Productivity Owl will irritate the hell out of you and probably drive you slowly nuts, but hey, at least it stops you Facebook stalking and pinning your way through the day.

[Via Lifehacker]

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