Web Technologies, Sites to Check Out over Thanksgiving Break

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-11-26

Web Technologies, Sites to Check Out over Thanksgiving Break

Admit it. You aren't going to be with family or Christmas shopping for your entire Thanksgiving week break.

Some of you will have downtime, so why not check out some cool Web technologies you've been mulling but haven't had time to download or test?

It's time to branch out beyond Facebook and Twitter. Here are 10 technology suggestions from eWEEK, including social services, search, productivity tools and a content site you may not be familiar with.

They are (in absolutely no order of preference): Glue, Plista, Zenbe, Hulu, Blist, EtherPad, DotSpots, Mobspin, Socialcast and Searchmme. Enjoy and happy holidays!

To view slides of these products, click here. 


From software maker Adaptive Blue, Glue is a contextual network that uses semantic technology to connect people around everyday things-books, music, movies, stars, artists, stocks, wine, restaurants and more. Glue appears on popular sites such as Amazon, Last.fm, Netflix, Yahoo Finance, Wine.com and Citysearch, revealing friends and other Glue users who visited the same destination. Glue filters out junk by showing users relevant information from friends about things they visit.


Do you ever feel inundated by content on some of your RSS feeds? Perhaps you'd like an editor or filter of some sort. Plista is a social recommendation service that can help. The free Firefox browser plug-in overlays directly onto any Web page you're viewing. Users rate content on the site. Plista responds with recommendations based on the tastes of similar consumers for other things they'd be likely to enjoy, on the same site or elsewhere. Plista also lets users share their recommendations and find others with similar tastes. The tool is free. Here is a list of sites Plista supports.


Zenbe is a free e-mail service that invites your other e-mail content to the party. Users import contacts and calendars from Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL Mail, as well as content from Facebook and Twitter, and organizes it in one console. Users then view messages by conversation or by person, in more of a lifestream view than a read-it-as-it-comes-in view. Two new features: conversation view, which lets users see all e-mail related to a particular conversation with a single click, and favorites view, which lets users choose contacts as favorites.


Let's take a break from social network-type services for something that lets you be a little lazier. YouTube may be old hat to millions of people, so try Hulu.com, an online video venture between NBC Universal and News Corp. Unlike the user-generated content of YouTube, Hulu offers hit TV shows, movies and clips for free on-demand in the United States. This is a perfect site to check out for the holidays, and bookmark for when you go back to work (don't tell your boss).


Still a darling of eWEEK, Blist is the ultimate list organizational tool. The user interface resembles a spreadsheet, which is tied to a relational database on the back end to make list creation and sharing on the Web simple. Here Blist CEO Kevin Merritt shares tips on how to use Blist to create a Christmas list. Blist is currently geared for consumers, but Merritt said the company is moving to cater to the enterprise in 2009.

EtherPad, Socialcast and More

AppJet's EtherPad

Further along the productivity front is EtherPad, which provides real-time collaborative workspaces for editing text. Designed to be more interactive than Google Docs, AppJet says, "EtherPad infrastructure is built to carry your every keystroke at the speed of light, limited only by the time it takes electrons to travel over a wire (such as an 'Ethernet' cable)." This is an improvement over Google Docs, which AppJet claims takes about 5 to 15 seconds for a change to make its way from your keyboard to other people's screens. EtherPad also lets users copy and paste a link without sending e-mails.


Introduced at TechCrunch50 in September, DotSpots makes an annotation Web service that lets consumers annotate news articles and other text content with videos from YouTube or photos from Flickr and links. The software then uses semantic matching technology to distribute each contribution to every instance of that meme across the Web. YouTube contributors, bloggers or just plain citizen journalists can add comments, videos, photos or other content to news stories to offer a more rounded view of an event. Google's Marissa Mayer touted the service at TechCrunch50.


Yes, this is another social recommendation service. Mobspin makes it easy to ask for and share recommendations with your friends across a wide range of topics, such as products, businesses, health, money and travel. Anonymity is the key. The questions, reviews and comments you write can be seen by any other Mobspin user and will eventually be available to the general public as well. However, only people who are "connected" to you, i.e. friends, can see your name or picture attached to what you've written.


Are you a manager in the market for a tool that will help you better connect with your workgroup? Socialcast is a microblogging tool geared for businesses. Yes, it's a bit of Twitter for the enterprise. Socialcast continues to innovate, providing a version for the iPhone that allows users to chat with colleagues while on the go. A new Gmail plug-in works with the Firefox browser and, once downloaded, provides a sidebar of Socialcast activity inside the user's in-box. Socialcast is free for up to five users.


Speaking of iPhone users, the Searchme iPhone app recently hit Apple's App Store. Designed specifically for  the iPhone and iPod Touch, Searchme lets users see Web pages without clicking through. Results are presented in a stack of pages that you can flip through or expand with your finger. Once you find what you're looking for, just double tap the screen to open the page. You don't have to wait for them to upload in your browser.

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