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Playing Steve Jobs, Gaga over social networking and more tech endorsements than you can shake an iPhone at
If you want to keep up with the Kardashians you really need to sport a Windows Phone 8 Lumia 900 phone, as Kourtney Kardashian told us this year. If you wanna get in tight with Lady Gaga, you need to join her own social network. And if you really want to learn about what made Steve Jobs tick, only Ashton Kutcher can enlighten you. Here are the best – and mostly worst – celebrity tech moments of 2012:
Scary smart idea? Littlemonsters.com
Lady Gaga’s team created a social network platform called Backplane to support a Gaga-centric social network that one co-founder told Business Insider would “be bigger than Facebook and Google some day." Backplane exploits the big data generated by all those Tweets and Likes of the singer, and one day could be used to support networks for other celebs and non-celebs. Google Ventures, one backer, is among the believers that Little Monsters will attract a million or more fans.
Dangerous Emma Watson
The British actress made famous in the Harry Potter movies by playing know-it-all Hermione was named McAfee’s most dangerous celebrity to search for on the web. "Searches for the latest Emma Watson pictures and free downloads have more than a 12% chance to land on a malicious site that has tested positive for spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses or other malicious stuff," according to McAfee, whose study is based on the company's site ratings technology. For her part, Watson relished the crown, commenting that the title "totally edges me up" and makes her look cooler.
From Beavis & Butt-head to “Silicon Valley”
Mike Judge, the guy behind TV shows like “Beavis and Butt-head” and “King of the Hill, has had his live-action pilot for a sendup of current Silicon Valley (and called “Silicon Valley”) green-lighted by HBO. Judge’s experience with Office Space, which focused on three disgruntled programmers working at a pre-bubble software firm, should do him well in this new venture. The new show will add to a growing number of mainstream programs focused on the Valley, including the Randi Zuckerberg-backed (yes, Mark’s sister) Bravo reality show "Start-Ups: Silicon Valley," which stars the most beautiful startup types you’ll ever come across.
Surface tablet meets Suburgatory
Microsoft is pushing Windows 8 and its Surface tablets really hard on TV, even getting the show “Suburgatory” to write a whole episode around the device, which becomes the boyfriend of the show’s star, Tessa. Apparently Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface are real market share leaders in make-believe-land, with characters on other TV shows such as Arrow, Elementary and Hawaii Five-O also just happening to use the technology.
Geeky new TV characters
One element of the formula for this year’s new TV shows has been inclusion of a token geeky character. Among them: Sophie Girard, French leader of the NATO communications facility on the recently canceled “Last Resort”; Felicity Smoak, the bespeckled computer geek working for Queen Consolidated on comic book-inspired “Arrow”; and Aaron Pittman, a computer whiz who worked for Google before the lights went out on “Revolution.”
Will.i.am gets the iPhone picture
Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am (also Intel’s nebulous “director of creative innovation”) made iPhones even pricier this year by introducing a line of add-ons to turn your smartphone into a way better camera (from 8mp to 14, for example) via a venture he calls i.am+. According to the singer’s website: “foto.sosho turns your regular iPhone into a stylish digital camera with photo filters, image editing, and instant social media upload.” The accessories, which cost from around $300 to $500, include gold-plated options.
Oprah loves Surface! (From her iPad)
Microsoft’s blanketing of TV and the movies with Surface and Windows 8 marketing took an expected turn for the company when Oprah Winfrey took to Twitter in November to praise one of her favorite things -- the Microsoft Surface tablet – which she claimed to buy 12 of for gifts. The only problem? She sent her tweet from an iPad. Supermodel Kate Upton had a similarly awkward moment, being photographed with her iPhone at a Galaxy Note 10.1 launch.
Hackers go after the stars
Another year, another bunch of celebrities’ phones and websites get hacked. Among the victims: Lady Gaga’s Gaga Daily website, by a person or group called pyknic; Comedian Whitney Cummings’ Twitter account; smartphones from Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and Glee’s Heather Morris.
MIT’s Jennifer Aniston hair care
“Friends” star Jennifer Aniston joined forces with MIT researchers to promote a hair-care company called Living Proof that’s taking an ultra-scientific approach to daunting challenges such as: How to get rid of hair frizz.
The flop that launched 60,000 tweets
During the Emmy Award show in September, host Jimmy Kimmel called up comedian Tracy Morgan from the audience and asked him to pass out on stage. When he did, Kimmel urged viewers to tweet and post to Facebook: “OMG Tracy Morgan just passed out on stage during the Emmys, turn on ABC.” Twitter said the stunt “ended up getting over 60k after 3 minutes.”
O’Reilly vs. Stewart vs. the Internet
The intentionally funny John Stewart and the unintentionally funny Bill O’Reilly squared off in October in a mock debate – "The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” – designed to outshine the real presidential debates. While some said that might have been the case, if you based it on the content, but unfortunately, the streaming video and social media experiences were so awful that the event’s Facebook and Twitter streams were flooded with negative comments and event organizers failed to engage in any discussion with the dissatisfied would-be viewers.
Microsoft Store gives rapper the boot
A party held by Source magazine in late September at an Atlanta Microsoft Store got a little too rowdy when rapper Machine Gun Kelly, who was performing, started dancing on tables and letting the language fly. Police were called and he was escorted out of the store.
Lindsay Lohan: Delete those pics
Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan accused a congressional aide in New York of assaulting her when she tried to delete pictures of herself partying earlier in the night from his cellphone. The man denied the accusations and charges were dropped by NYC police.
X Factor for Tech?
The X Factor's Simon Cowell and singer/The Voice's Will.i.am were reported this year to be joining forces on a TV show that would search for the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. The tech-minded Will.i.am told The Sun: "Singing and performance create a couple of jobs. But this will create lots."
Ricky Gervais gets appy
Ricky Gervais, the comedian behind the U.K. version of “The Office,” rolled out an app dubbed Just Sayin’ that’s designed to post spoken updates to Facebook and Twitter via iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The app launched over the summer, via a company called CloudTalk, and gives Gervais (he of the 3.6 million Twitter followers) credit: As of December he was still issuing Just Sayin’ posts.
Mr. SexyBack aims to revive MySpace
Justin Timberlake, who played Sean Parker in the Facebook movie “The Social Network,” is among a group of investors trying to pump new life into MySpace, once king of the social networks. MySpace is promoting itself as “Social Entertainment,” and is leaning heavily on shared musical interests, while hooking into popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Google welcomed Hollywood stars such as Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (reunited from “Wedding Crashers”) to film shooting for their 2013 picture dubbed “The Internship,” in which laid-off 40-somethings try to make it big at an Internet startup where their managers are in their 20s. Hilarity will no doubt ensue.
Google’s Bacon Number
Everyone by now knows the Hollywood corollary to the Six Degrees of Separation formula – Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, being how far removed an actor/actress is from Kevin Bacon. This year Google introduced a new search trick that allows you type in the words bacon number (no quotation marks) and the name of another performer to get their Bacon Number.
Lady Gaga pushes the iPad
Apple even had the benefit of Lady Gaga fanning hype around its iPad and smartphone leading into the formal iPhone announcement. The singer encouraged her fans (a.k.a. Little Monsters) to "start asking for IPADS FOR XMAS!!" in order to showcase her upcoming album, dubbed ARTPOP. Following her original website post titled "ARTPOP is not just an ALBUM it's a PROJECT," Lady Gaga did comfort her Little Monsters that they actually will be able to enjoy her new album even if they don't have an iPad or iPhone, as it will also be available in traditional formats and as an app on platforms such as Android. "Do not fret!" she wrote in a post following up her original announcement.
Stewart down on Instagram buyout
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart was down on Facebook’s billion dollar buyout in April of photo editing/sharing site app Instagram, calling the purchase “really lame.” Though the show’s “senior youth correspondent” Jessica Williams straightened him out: “Before Instagram, if I wanted my pictures to look like they were taken in the ‘60s, I’d have to invent a time machine and travel back 50 years. You know how much a time machine would cost to build?”
Death Rumors: The true story
A new website dubbed Death Rumors emerged to combat all those viral Twitter streams about so-and-so being dead. Sometimes they are, and sometimes (Sinbad, Bill Crosby, Bill Nye, the Science Guy) they aren’t…. at least of this posting. Although when we visited the site in early December, it mistakenly had Gov. Jerry Brown as deceased, rather than a former Dallas Cowboys player of that same name.
James Bond’s phone
Some film buffs look forward to the beautiful cars and beautiful women in each new James Bond movie. Tech watchers look for the new gear, which in the latest, Skyfall, is a Sony Xperia T. The Xperia T shown off in this Sony Pictures film (hmmm…) boasts a 4.6-inch HD screen,13MP camera and NFC functionality.
Geena Davis backs broadband
Actress Geena Davis in May was named a winner of the 2012 ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award for her efforts promoting information and communications technology (ICT) to empower women and girls. The Academy Award-winning Davis is founder of the nonprofit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and younger. Davis is ITU's special envoy for women and girls in the field of information and communication technology, and has appealed to the ITU’s Broadband Commission to set up a special focus group on gender.
Celebs bankroll techie startups
The free website, Duolingo, from a pair of Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists serves double duty: It helps people learn new languages while also translating the text on Web pages into different languages. Duolingo, spun off in November 2011 to offer commercial and free translation services, received $3.3 million in funding from Union Square Ventures, actor Ashton Kutcher and others. Another startup, Stamped, from a couple of ex-Googlers and another partner who came up with a new app for more social restaurant and small business reviews, got backing from Google Ventures, but also Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber
CES: It’s not just about the gadgets
The annual CES International gadgetfest in Las Vegas each January isn’t just about the latest smartphones, cameras, and this past January, ultrabooks. It’s also about star gazing, and among celebs at this year’s event: Justin Bieber, Will Smith and Kelly Clarkson.
2nd most famous Pitt
Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt’s brother Doug gets some love from Virgin Mobile, which features him in ads promoting its message: Everyone deserves a fair go. The idea is that if you use Virgin Mobile’s services, you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to be a star.