Beta Watch: Juice, EveryScape, Shoeboxed
Juice: Research Assistance in Firefox
Researching any topic on the Net is light-years easier than doing so offline. But we lazy humans still want things to be even simpler. Juice, a free Firefox 3 add-on, takes much of the clicking and tab swapping out of researching most any topic. Say you're reading about the latest Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, and you want to know more. Highlight the film's name and drag the words into the Juice panel located on the right side of the browser--it gives you news stories, Wikipedia entries, images, and shopping info. Click on a result, and the page opens in a new browser tab.
EveryScape: A Virtual Peek Inside Buildings
Google's Street View can make you feel like you're walking through a neighborhood, but the shots are all from the street. EveryScape shows the interiors of selected buildings as well. I found the free service most useful when I turned on AutoDrive, a feature that leads you through a building or neighborhood, complete with snazzy transitions--the image blurs, rushes past, and then is replaced with the next image. EveryScape is great for assessing a restaurant or hotel before you make a reservation. But it would help if AutoDrive better indicated where visitors are being taken.
Shoeboxed: Manage Paper Receipts Online
For most folks, the paperless office (or home) has yet to come to pass. As digital as we are, we still amass pieces of paper, typically receipts and business cards. If you join Shoeboxed for $10 to $50 per month, you can stick that paper into an envelope and send it to the site. (The service offers a free option, but you must scan the documents yourself.) Worker bees scan your receipts, pull out information--such as how much you spent, and where--and present the details in an online database. They can turn your business cards into a contacts repository too. Shoeboxed seems handy, but even though I know paper will never go away entirely, I still balk at investing time and money into a dying medium.