Beta Watch: Springpad, Xpenser, and Citrify
If you're looking for a free program to handle your notes from meetings or classes, or a real-time receipt tracker that you can connect to via PC or phone, or a free online photo editor that displays the different adjustments you make as you make them, read on.
Springpad: Note Taker
I've used Evernote for a while to keep records of meetings and plans. But Springpad is a worthy, free competitor that brings some cool new tricks to notetaking. For instance, you can import a recipe from a cooking site, and Springpad will automatically parse out the ingredients you need. Click a link, and it will add those ingredients to a shopping list. Type in the name of a movie, and not only will the service add a note with a description and image, but it will give you local showtimes or add it to your Netflix queue. A companion iPhone app lets you add and access notes on the go. You can even add a product by scanning its barcode with your iPhone's camera.
Xpenser: Receipt Help
Even if your business trip goes off without a hitch, you'll have to deal with all those receipts afterward. And who can remember a week afterward what the taxi ride cost or why the bottle of single-malt scotch seemed deductible? With Xpenser, you can keep track of your expenses in real time, using any PC or phone. You can add an expense through the free service's site, by e-mail, IM, text message, or voice call. You can even keep track of your costs by sending direct messages on Twitter. Send in a photo of the receipt to prove that a cheeseburger really can cost $20.
Citrify: Snappy Photo Editing
Online photo editors have existed for years, but early versions were often slow to show the changes you made to your images. Citrify displays the effects of your work as you do it, enabling you to see just how your picture will look as you pump up the contrast or sharpness. This free service includes most of the tools amateur photographers will need-in addition to adjusting brightness and hue, you can eliminate red-eye, smooth over wrinkles, and more. You can even "Obamify" your images, making the subjects look as though they're in the iconic campaign poster.