Note: Video presentations of the products mentioned below, as well as most other presentations from Demo, are available here. Blogger won’t accept the embedded videos and I don’t have time to mess with it.
Graspr – There used to be a great site called Learn2.com that showed how to perform life tasks ranging from making a soufflé to fixing a leaky pipe in simple words and pictures. I don’t know what became of it; the URL now points to a software retailer. Graspr gives the Learn2 concept a social media twist. Members can upload how-to videos and annotate each other’s creations, sharing tips or advice on how to do something better. Members can also vote on the most useful content. This is a good way to mine the wisdom of crowds while also enabling people to connect with others who have similar interests and expertise.
Propel – This is quality-of-service (QOS) for the PC. Developer Propel Software Corp. argues that when people are frustrated with Internet performance on the desktop, the culprit is often their own PC. A PC doesn’t distinguish between a file download and a VOIP session, for example, so bandwidth-critical applications may suffer because low-priority jobs are getting an equal share of the pipe.
QOS is a discipline that assigns priorities to applications so that some packets get priority on the network over others. It’s been implemented in corporate networks for years, but Propel’s utility brings the same concept to the desktop, allowing the user to define priorities for bandwidth demand. Propel also provides a simple dashboard to monitor traffic and make sure all is well. The product should be available by the end of the year. If it works, it’s a no-brainer that I’ll use it.
Diigo – I’m an active user of the del.icio.us social bookmarking service, but I’m frustrated by its limitations. A big one is that del.icio.us only provides a few characters with which to describe the pages I bookmark. I frequently run out of space trying to write a description.
Diigo is social bookmarking for serious researchers. Users of its toolbar can highlight and annotate passages on bookmarked Web pages. People can comment on each other’s bookmarked pages and highlights. Essentially, the service creates group discussion around Web content. Anyone with the Diigo toolbar can see other users’ annotations and sites that choose to implement the Diigo protocols can provide these capabilities even to non-Diigo users.
There are other innovatives features in this release, including a function that lets you create a PowerPoint-like slide show sequence using Web pages. I’m not sure I see much utility in that, but the highlighting feature alone could be enough to make me switch from del.icio.us.
Yuuguu – screen sharing has been around since the early days of Microsoft NetMeeting, and is still a core feature of services like GoToMyPC.com. You can also download open-source screen sharing software like VNC. So the idea isn’t new, but Yuuguu has implemented it in an elegantly simple way.
Yuuguu WebShare users can share their screens with others on the fly by simply clicking on names in an AOL Instant Messenger-like buddy list. The shared screen comes up in a browser window and users can easily pass control of their screen to others, with everyone seeing the results. The company pairs the service with a global audio conferencing system. It’ll make money from that and give away the software client for free.
MyQuire – Another Web 1.0 idea that many find a new life with a social media twist is project management for consumers. In the early days of the Web, several Internet businesses launched services that let consumers collaborate on everyday group projects like organizing church socials and softball leagues. The services were limited by the technology of the time, particularly the reliance on e-mail for communication and limited file-sharing. MyQuire improves on the collaborative features of the early efforts and adds standard social media tools like photo and file-sharing. The company is in stealth mode for a couple of more months, but the demo version of its service looks interesting.
LongJump – As a small-business owner, my financial management processes are embarrassingly rudimentary. At some point, I probably should make the switch to Intuit’s QuickBooks, but LongJump would argue that it can deliver all that functionality and more for a low monthly fee. The initial service combines 14 common business applications and an integration platform that developers can use to add others. Monthly fees will start at around $25.
The integration platform is very similar to Salesforce.com’s app exchange concept. While there’s nothing particularly new about LongJump’s business model, its aggressive pricing and impressive feature set could make it an attractive service for small business owners.