Beta Watch: Spokeo, RescueTime, Zoho Show 2

Spokeo: Providing the 411 on Your Friends

With the explosion of social networks, fracturing is inevitable: Some of your friends are on MySpace, other buddies use LinkedIn, and still others are addicted to Twitter. Spokeo helps you keep track of everybody from one spot. The free service scans your address book, and finds your friends' accounts on any of 30 networks and services, including old-school Friendster, photo spot Flickr, and even Amazon's Wish List. When your friends post new musings or pictures, Spokeo lets you know. Spokeo has one big hole--it doesn't monitor Facebook--but otherwise, it's scarily complete. The site displays only information you're authorized to view, but I still find it a little creepy that I am now fully informed about what kind of sheets a casual business acquaintance wants for his birthday.

RescueTime: Charting What You Do

Ever get to quitting time and wonder where your workday went? If you spent much of your day on your computer, RescueTime will tell you exactly what you were doing. After you download RescueTime's free monitoring software, the program keeps track of how long you worked in a specific application or browsed at a particular Web site. The software is smart about recognizing when you're actively working and when you've merely left the system on during your lunch break. Afterward you log in to your account on the service's site to see detailed graphs illustrating what you've been up to. The site combines data from any PC you use that has the monitoring software running. In addition, you can apply such tags as 'work' or 'gaming' to applications, to categorize how you spend your time. You may find the answer disturbing.

Zoho Show 2: Improved Online Presentations

The second generation of Zoho's free, Web-based PowerPoint replacement, Zoho Show, gets closer to Microsoft's program, with some cool collaborative features. This version of Show brings new themes, the ability to add shapes and clip art, and more options for formatting text and arranging images. Show is certainly more capable than Google's bare-bones equivalent. The developers promise an improved import function, but I still encountered problems when I pulled a PowerPoint presentation into a prerelease version of the application; graphic elements on the pages displayed improperly. You can deliver your presentation remotely from within Zoho Show, and you can chat with participants and even allow them to take over the presentation.

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