Beta Watch: Zentact, Slacker for Phones, ScreenToaster
Zentact: Keep in Touch, Semiautomatically
If, like me, you're terrible about keeping in touch with old friends, you need more than just a contact manager. You need a noodge, something that will harass you about dropping a line to your college roommate or your ex-boss. Zentact does that, but not without some work from you. First you have to import your contacts, and then you must tag them with their interests (that's the only labor-intensive part). Then, as you browse the Web, Zentact suggests pages that one or more of your friends might be interested in. If a friend is looking for a job, for example, and you browse to a job board, Zentact will recommend e-mailing that person a note with the link, making the process almost automatic.
Slacker: Music on Your Phone
Slacker launched as an Internet radio service with a difference: It also sold MP3-player devices that could stream the radio service. But most people have another device in their pockets that can do the job--a cell phone. With the launch of Slacker's iPhone and BlackBerry applications, you can get the same lineup of stations, such as Classic Jazz or '70s Hits. The apps also allow you to search for an artist and find stations dedicated to that performer and related musicmakers. It's a great way to get music--but beware of what it will do to your phone's battery life.
ScreenToaster: Online Screen Captures
All teachers know that it's better to show than to tell. And showing other people something happening on your computer's screen doesn't get much easier than with ScreenToaster. Sign up at the ScreenToaster site, press Alt-S, and you're recording. Once you have finished recording, you can add captions. Afterward you can upload the video to ScreenToaster's servers or to YouTube--or download it as an AVI file.