By Sara Wilson
The web gets a whole new level of interactivity.
In today's high-tech world, where everything operates at lightning speed, Sandy Jen, 27, Elaine Wherry, 30, and Seth Sternberg, 29, didn't feel the internet was keeping pace. Envisioning a more interactive online world where things happen in real time, the friends launched Mountain View, California-based Meebo in 2005. As Sternberg says, "We wanted to bring live back to the web."
At the company's website, meebo.com, users can chat across multiple IM platforms, play games and even go shopping together. Additional products like Meebo Rooms and Meebo Me equip third-party websites with technology that lets their users chat live. Embedded in the homepage of Showtime's Big Brother: After Dark website, for instance, is a Meebo-branded chat room where fans dish about the show. Backed by $37.5 million in VC funding and with a total of more than 30 million unique users a month at all sites using its technology, Meebo and its founders are working overtime to deliver on the company's potential. Says Sternberg, "It's like a marathon that you have to sprint your way through."
To The Rescue
By Amanda C. Kooser
Drowning in e-mail? You have your pick of lifeboats.
A 2007 survey by technology market research firm Radicati Group found that corporate users receive an average of 155 e-mails a day. Trying to deal with each message can take a substantial amount of time. Startup Xobni and companies like ClearContext, MX Sense and Seriosity can help businesses manage e-mail overload. For instance, Xobni's Outlook plug-in brings fast searches, threaded conversations, e-mail analytics and social information directly to your inbox.
Seriosity's hosted Attent service also works with Outlook mail clients. Users tag e-mails with a virtual currency value based on the message's importance.
ClearContext's IMS software, meanwhile, helps users prioritize their day based on important events and tasks. It also manages inboxes by having users quickly review and sort messages.
When it comes to tricky shared e-mail addresses (like catchall info or customer service addresses), Palo Alto Software's new Email Center Pro comes in handy. This web-based solution lets you monitor e-mail exchanges between customers and your staff. You can assign e-mails to employees and add comments for internal reference.
For many entrepreneurs, managing e-mail will require a variety of solutions, from filters to add-on software. Fortunately, more tools are now available.
Take Wi-Fi With You
By Amanda C. Kooser
How smart is your smartphone? well, it can turn into a wireless hot spot.
If connecting your smartphone to a laptop for internet access is too much of a bother, you can share the Wi-Fi wealth by turning your smartphone into a mini wireless hot spot. Companies offer solutions for a variety of smartphones. Owners of Symbian S60 smartphones (such as the Nokia N95) can check out JoikuSpot,a free software-based solution from Finnish company Joikusoft. However, a lack of security features means you should be cautious about where and how you use it.
TapRoot's WalkingHotSpot is available for S60 and Windows Mobile devices with 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities. A download is available, but TapRoot focuses on an offering that makes WalkingHotSpot available through wireless carriers. Energy management features help make it battery-friendly. WMWifiRouter is another option for Windows Mobile smartphones and has a free trial available. You may need to do some experimenting to see which solution works best for you without sucking the life out of your smartphone battery or leaving your data vulnerable.
Whether you're sharing your 3G smart-phone connection with your laptop or with a couple of employees, expect these offerings to get even more attractive once mobile broadband speeds pick up a little in the U.S.
Put it on Paper
From the editors of CNET.com
Advanced features are a given with this all-in-one printer.
Hewlett-Packard Officejet J6480 all-in-one printer
CNET's rating: 8.0 Excellent
The good: Loads of useful built-in hardware, including autoduplexer, auto-document feeder and Optical Character Recognition scanner; painless 802.11g wireless setup; excellent quality text, graphic and photo prints.
The bad: No PictBridge support; only three autodial fax buttons; slower than average photo prints.
The bottom line: The HP Officejet J6480 has a lot of built-in features that are rarely included in a $200 printer. Shoppers looking for an all-inclusive multifunctional unit will be impressed with the robust hardware and rich print quality.
By Lindsay Holloway
Wondering how to keep your team on the same page?
From conception to execution to fruition, Clarizen's latest version of its SaaS project management solutions helps small and midsize businesses keep their tasks and teams in check. With an easy-to-use web interface, team members can collaborate and track projects in real time from anywhere. Plan budgets, create reports, import from Microsoft Projects, export to Excel and take advantage of e-mail alerts, discussion boards and personalized dashboards.
Price: Starts at $16.95 per user per month