Text messaging can be a tricky affair. It got David Beckham in a lot of trouble with his wife, and if you're on a U.S. carrier, it's likely given you some trouble on your monthly bill. Throw in the difficulty of typing with twelve keys, and conventional messaging loses some of its appeal. That's where Joopz comes in. Joopz is a browser-based SMS service that lets you use your 100+ button PC keyboard to send and receive text messages. Many carriers already offer this functionality from their Web sites or with special, free e-mail addresses, but … Read more
Most people don't go out driving to make friends, but that's the philosophy behind a new (and extremely optimistic) social networking SMS service called PL8Scan, which enables cell phone-wielding drivers to contact other drivers by text message via the latter's license plate numbers.
Having signed up to PL8Scan, drivers who wish to initiate contact with other road users send a text message to a central repository using a five-digit number. In the message, the driver includes the license plate number of the intended recipient (including details of the state in which it is registered), as well as … Read more
When Helio struck an exclusive deal with MySpace earlier this year, it became the only carrier in the nation to support MySpace Mobile--in fact, MySpace Mobile was one of the defining features of owning a Helio handset. Starting today however, all Cingular Wireless subscribers will have access to MySpace Mobile as well. All they have to do is text MYSPACE to 386 (FUN) to get the MySpace Mobile application. It costs $2.99 a month in addition to standard data charges, so it's not cheap. As with the Web version of MySpace, you can upload photos, approve friend requests, … Read more
In response to the Webware Challenge to make cell phones into better lifelines, many (hundreds) of people added comments and wrote to me personally to say the main solution to finding people who are lost or stranded should be better cellular phone coverage, cell phones with emergency satellite radios, or dedicated emergency locator beacons. I support all of these ideas, but as I said in a previous post, I still think we could use a "fail-safe" notification system that alerts friends, families, or authorities when a person goes missing. If a person is unable to make a call … Read more
The San Francisco New Tech Meetup met at our offices Wednesday. Presentations were given by four interesting companies:
Vizu's new Answers service lets anyone create a market research poll, which is distributed to various sites and blogs that have an audience of visitors the researcher wants to poll. It looks like a really fast way to get basic product research done. It's not free: You pay to distribute your poll to the sites in the network that have agreed to run polls; they, in turn, make money for running your research. In other words, it's much like … Read more
The makers of ThinkFree, which gives away online alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, are planning to sell premium, Web-based software by the end of the first quarter of 2007. ThinkFree will charge between $5 and $10 per month for its premium online edition, letting you synchronize files saved to the Web with the work on your desktop. Does this mark the beginning of the end of the free ride for online software? Not really. ThinkFree's downloadable software will remain $50, while the current ThinkFree Online will become the Basic Edition and won't cost anything.
As other … Read more
Welcome to the social? Not exactly.
I spent a week trekking around San Francisco, Zune in tow, hoping to find more of the players to share music with. I nearly gave up in failure but finally found one other Zune on my downtown expedition.
It's early on, of course--the Zune has only been available for around a month. Still, one of the main reasons Microsoft is hoping that consumers will opt for the Zune over the iPod is the MP3 player's wireless sharing feature. And, as I found out, it's not much use if there is no … Read more
There have been a few dozen good responses to the post I wrote about new technologies or services that could help find people who get into trouble while traveling. See A Webware challenge: Make cell phones better lifelines.
It begins with notification. You don't send out rescue parties until you know someone is lost, and my initial proposal simply allows the alarm to be raised earlier. Several people rightly commented that it would be difficult to create a "flight plan" system that people would actually use. But I will not dismiss this idea just yet; some of … Read more
Shortly after we got the crushing news of James Kim's death, I received an e-mail from a human resources person here at CNET. She wrote, "I would love to see a Web site dedicated to the safety of employees. Employees should be able to submit their travel routes and whereabouts. Whether it's on a road trip or visiting an apartment listed on Craigslist, providing information on where employees are and the related circumstances may be extremely helpful in the event that an emergency or dangerous situation occurs."
I forwarded this idea to several people who run … Read more
Opera Software has released the next generation of its mini mobile browser, Opera Mini 3. I gamely attempted to review the free release, interested to see if the new and improved features boasting faster speeds, secure Web page support (for safely accessing eBay and e-mail), and RSS capabilities satisfied the hype. I was also keen to check out content folding, a unique feature that reformats Web pages by heading, using an expandable tree form (more in the full review). Sounds great, right?
I dove in, originally intending to compare Opera Mini 3's performance on a variety of devices. Yet … Read more