Today, users of AOL Mail can start chatting from within their in-boxes, without having to open the AIM application. If you want to add this feature to your AOL Mail account, then visit beta.webmail.aol.com each time you log in, which will roll the new features into your existing AOL e-mail service. The changes are set to take effect later today. Gmail and Yahoo Mail beta both offer built-in chatting.
Operator11 is a free service for people who want to broadcast live over the Internet using their Webcams. Following similar livecasting offerings out there, it gives people a fairly simple one-stop solution to hook up their Webcam and get a live video broadcast going. Users can also simply upload video clips from their computers to share with others. One of its more interesting features, however, is the capability to have multiple people drop in and out of a live broadcast, which is controlled using a live studio that runs right in your Web browser.
Like Mogulus [review], which offers a similar feature, Operator11 gives whoever is controlling the show the option to see everything that's going on in one screen, and swap back and forth between Webcams or other content on the fly. And like BlogTV, which I looked at last week, hosts can also invite their viewers to join the fray at any time--it's a very open system.
Operator11 users can record, embed, and share their shows with others. Channel owners get about 40 minutes per show before the system will stop recording, which is very generous. Other users can then watch the clip, comment on it, and rate it using a five-star system. Operator11 also keeps track of who the director was, along with others who participated. This information is also kept track of in user profiles.
There are quite a few of these video broadcasting sites now, and I'm absolutely convinced one of the best uses for them is for the next big content creator who's looking for an easy way to broadcast and syndicate live content. Likewise, even for large media companies such as CNET, free services like this offer a relatively simple way to deliver live event broadcasts (which we tried at Facebook's F8 platform launch using Veodia).
Operator11 is currently in public alpha, so expect a few occasional kinks if you give it a go. For a shot of the user interface, click the "read more" link below.
Azooca is a new video mail service that launched earlier this month. It joins the ranks of other video mail services like Springdoo, EyeJot, and Gabmail to let users send and receive video messages. Azooca steps it up a notch by giving its users a full-fledged e-mail in-box, along with 250MB to store attachments and incoming video messages.
Recording videos is managed entirely within the e-mail composition window, and users get three simple controls to record, play, and stop the recording. Users can also preview their video messages before sending, or save them as a draft. Video clips are limited … Read more
I've gushed already about CallWave, the free cellular voice mail replacement service. Today the service got even better--the company has just taken the wraps off Vtxt, its automated speech-to-text service.
Vtxt converts voice mail into text. When someone leaves you a message, the service e-mails or SMSes you the transcription. The conversion is far from perfect, but more than good enough to get the gist of the message. You'll still have to listen to the recording to get the message's full meaning and nuance, but with Vtxt you can very quickly scan your voice mails to find … Read more
MindMeister is a "mind mapping" tool that launched last month. If you're unfamiliar with mind mapping, it's somewhere between brainstorming and an organizational chart. If you've ever had to help plan a party or put together an outline for a project, mind mapping is one of the ways to organize and order your thoughts. MindMeister replaces legal pads and crumpled up pieces of paper with an online workspace that can be revised and manipulated. Users can create ideas and connect them to one another, or build their own hierarchies--it's essentially a giant canvas.
Users of Google Docs and Spreadsheets will feel right at home, as the tool shares similar features for versioning, autosave, and collaboration. There's also built-in Skype integration, assuming your collaborators have provided their Skype username. While there's no built-in chat, users can fire up a text or voice chat on Skype by clicking on another collaborator's name.
For users who don't feel like logging in to add a quick idea to their mind map, MindMeister has a few tools that help out. Called "Geistesblitz" (meaning "mind flash"), these tools consist of a widget for OS X and Vista, and a browser extension that installs itself as a search engine in IE and Firefox's search box. When you come across something you feel like writing down, you can just enter it in, and it will be sent to whatever mind map you've chosen as the default.
MindMeister offers two tiers of service--one free, and a paid premium version that runs about $4 per month. The premium version gives users an unlimited amount of mind maps, as well as the option to embed them on blogs and Web sites. I've embedded a sample mind map after the jump. … Read more
At a SuperNova mixer yesterday, I met with Jyri Engestrom, founder of the often-compared-to-Twitter nanoblogging service, Jaiku. He told me that the service has a new feature that just went into public beta: Channels. These are like standard personal Jaiku feeds, but shared by groups. Here's the Webware channel. As of this writing, it's pretty spare (being that I just set it up and nobody knew about it until this moment), but you can also check out the Buzz out Loud channel, which has a bit more going on.
Jaiku's group nanoblogs are very much like … Read more
BlogTV is a new livestreaming service that's been making a splash at the Supernova conference here in San Francisco. It's the latest in several live broadcasting services that have popped up, including uStream.TV, Veodia, Mogulus, and Stickam. Like some of its competitors, BlogTV is combining live video and chat in one window, along with a way to embed the entire module on your blog or Web site. It also lets content creators team up with two Webcams at once, a solution that opens up the service for co-hosts, live interviews, or multilocation coverage.
BlogTV isn't just limited to live streams, though; users can record bits of their live broadcast and publish them in an archive. Like YouTube and other video services, users can then comment and rate clips, as well as mark them as favorites. There's also the option to subscribe to an author's channel to keep tabs on future content or see when he or she is broadcasting live. Content is split up into nine different "channels," and users have the options to sort through live and archived clips for each.
BlogTV's embeddable player isn't quite up to snuff compared with some of the other livestreaming players I've seen. While it does show you how many people are watching a program, the integrated chat is a one-way experience. You can see what others are typing, but you can't type back or see who is in the chat room. To participate, you need to venture off-site to the broadcast's page. That being said, BlogTV's chat experience is really well-done. Channel owners can give certain users operations privileges (akin to IRC), kick users, and users can chat privately with one another. There's also all sorts of emoticons and quick options to share with or invite friends to the broadcast.
BlogTV is currently relegated to your computer, although the team behind it is working on a mobile version. I'm expecting something along the lines of Kyte.TV and Veodia, although if there's one thing we've found in testing these services, mobile Webcasting can get a little tricky.
I've embedded a sample BlogTV livecasting module after the jump. Since I don't want to bore you with a CNET office cam (not to say me typing isn't exhilarating), I'm embedding a live broadcast of the Supernova conference from Nir Ofir, one of the founders of BlogTV.… Read more
MySpace has announced the official beta release of its MySpaceIM instant messaging service which soft-launched informally a year ago. According to a release from MySpace, over 17 million of the social networking site's 180 million members worldwide have installed the downloadable client.
MySpace, which was acquired by News Corp. in 2005, used to operate a browser-based instant messaging service, which it has since phased out.
The MySpaceIM service competes with other ubiquitous and well-established instant messaging clients, like Yahoo Instant Messenger, Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger, and the formidable AOL Instant Messenger. But MySpaceIM hopes to set itself apart … Read more
Admit it, efforts at Web-based philanthropy and activism can be pretty annoying. Maybe you've signed more than your fair share of chain-letter e-mail action alerts and filled out form letters to politicians for some righteous cause or other, without ever seeing any results.
However, it is possible to make real dollar donations to a favorite charity without dropping a dime, just by surfing the Web. A handful of online services will route some of their profits from Internet advertising to the tree-saving, cancer-curing, kitten-rescuing, or other group of your choice.
This approach is more convenient than remembering to visit, … Read more
Updates to AOL Mail are set to make the service nimbler and more innovative, with unlimited storage and built-in chatting set for the coming weeks. I like what I've seen so far. A chatting pane will appear within the screen to display contacts from Mail and AIM, which remains the world's most popular instant messaging service.
Embedded RSS feeds, attachment search capabilities, as well as POP and IMAP compatibility are also in the works. By the end of the year, AOL plans to add integration with mapping, videos, and its xDrive online storage service.
AOL Mail maintains some … Read more