Speak Your Mind
By Karen Leland
Mental notes are no longer all in your head, thanks to two entrepreneurs who know what busy people need.
No pencil or paper? No problem. Enter Jott, the brainchild of Shreed-har Madhavapeddi, 36, and John Pollard, 43. Users call Jott's toll-free number, leave a message for the intended party, and within minutes, an e-mail appears--the spoken message turned into text. The co-founders shared a vision for solving a common problem and started the Seattle business in 2006. "We knew all these really busy, high-functioning people, and they would still forget stuff," says Pollard.
Currently in beta testing, the service is free to subscribers, and recent links with Amazon.com and Google Calendar have expanded the tool's popularity and productivity. With several million Jotts sent so far and $5.4 million in VC funding, the company is confident that scores of busy professionals will be eager to answer the customary question: Who do you want to Jott?
BuzzA Sense of Place
By Amanda C. Kooser
Who's behind the location-based services boom?
aeroscout: Founder and CEO Yuval Bar-Gil, 42, built his company around Wi-Fi-based asset tracking solutions. AeroScout has had no shortage of business, especially in the areas of health care, manufacturing and logistics. "A few years ago, we were selling to early adopters; now we're selling to the mainstream," says Bar-Gil. With $21 million in funding in 2007, the Redwood City, California, company is consolidating its position at the front of the market. "We are planning to be a very big company."
brightkite: Brightkite aims to bring advanced social networking to the mobile phone masses. While competitors let users track friends or look up local information, "we designed Brightkite to enable serendipitous encounters with people you don't know yet," says Martin May, founder of the Denver-based company. The service works on a wide variety of devices and carriers, opening up a huge potential user base. "The biggest challenges have been usability and getting the concept of location-based social networking across to users," says May, 30. "[But] once people get it, they're usually hooked." Brightkite raised about $1 million in first-round funding.
loopt: Based in Mountain View, California, Loopt has struck deals to bring its social mapping and friend-finding service to a variety of cell phones and providers like Boost Mobile, Sprint Nextel and Verizon. "Getting deals done with the carriers with a less-than-10-people startup was difficult," says CEO Sam Altman, 23, who co-founded the company with CTO Nick Sivo, 23. "We were fortunate to work with really good investors who helped us through that process." Loopt raised $12 million in Series B funding last year. "We want to be the consumer brand people think of when they think of location."
By Lindsay Holloway
Power-saving strategies that'll also save you money
Energy-efficient techniques can help you whittle down your portion of what Energy Star says is a $60 billion per year electric bill for U.S. small businesses. Start with an energy-efficient PC. Intel's Q35 processor/ chipset duo helps Hewlett-Packard's Compaq dc7800 Ultra-Slim Desktop PC (starting at $789) meet the new, stricter Energy Star 4.0 standards. The dc7800 can reduce overall energy use up to 85 percent; its external 80 Plus power supply, which doesn't generate internal heat, lowers idle energy use an additional 15 to 25 watts.
Dell's OptiPlex 755 Mini-Tower (starting at $578) also meets Energy Star 4.0 and 80 Plus standards. The company also plans to make its computers 25 percent more energy-efficient by 2010, while helping you maximize energy and dollar savings with its online calculator.
Don't forget your network. By managing the power levels of unused computers, Verdiem's Surveyor 5.0 can cut energy use 60 percent or up to $60 per PC per year, with pricing starting at $25 per PC per year. VMware's virtualization solution combines power management with the consolidation of client computer services onto fewer servers, cutting power usage by nearly 90 percent, according to VMware. Pricing depends on the size of the deployment.
Easier to deploy are products like Belkin's $49.99 Conserve surge protector. A remote lets you shut off any six unused electronic devices while keeping two outlets on full time, saving you up to $50 a year.
To find even more energy-saving ideas, visit energystar.gov and thegreenoffice.com.
Where You At?
By Amanda C. Kooser
GPS alternatives can help you find your way.
Not all mobile positioning systems require a GPS hookup. A variety of services now use Wi-Fi-based location solutions. Skyhook's software-only Wi-Fi Positioning System uses wireless access points to locate users. A partnership with Eye-Fi has brought about the Eye-Fi Explore, a $130 SD memory card that can geotag and upload photos over wireless connections. The Krillion shopping search engine is one of several companies using Skyhook technology to add a location component to their internet services.
Navizon software for mobile devices and laptops was developed with a triangulation method that uses Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers. It includes a buddy tracker, geotagging and a local search function. Users in well-covered urban areas can expect accuracy within half a block. Rural users who rely on cell tower triangulation should expect less accuracy. In fact, all GPS alternative systems work best in areas that are more densely populated and have more Wi-Fi hot spots, so don't expect coverage in rural areas.
The Big Picture
From the editors of CNET.com
Meet the monitor that's clearly good at what it does.
Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP LCD Display
CNET's rating: 8.7 Excellent
The good: Strong overall performance; its tried-and-true design is both aesthetically pleasing and practical; video connections galore
The bad: Cool preset mode is too blue; no digital audio connection
The bottom line: The $679, 24-inch Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP display delivers across the board in performance, design and features. It excelled with movies and games, making it not only an excellent choice as an entertainment display, but also great for Windows tasks.
By Lindsay Holloway
A webcam for anytime, anywhere conferencing.
From your office desktop to your laptop in a hotel room, Microsoft's small and bend- able LifeCam VX-5000 makes web conferencing possible anywhere. The stylish webcam is loaded with features: a 640 x 480 video resolution, 3x digital zoom, 1.3-megapixel still photography and a noise-cancelling microphone. Bundled in are Windows Live integration and Photo Swap. Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000 microsoft.com/hardware Price: $49.95