Springpad Online Notebooks Help Get Things Done

Springpad - LogoMany of us who have embraced The Web as the place for our stuff have looked to applications like Backpack, Evernote, or Google Notebook as places to store all of the things that we need to get or stay organized.
While most apps of this type tend to be free form or even business focused, Springpad is a series of online notebooks designed to be a whole life organizational tool. Stay on top of not only your business or professional projects and items, but also track your personal life as well.
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A Second Look at Evernote, Joint Contact, Backboard, Retaggr and Zemanta

I’ve been blogging here about Web apps and ideas for work for a while now so I thought I’d revisit some of the apps I’ve posted about in the past months. Where are they now? What are some of their latest developments?

Ever Improving Evernote

EvernoteI blogged about Evernote back in April while they were still in private beta. Mike Gunderloy has also covered them several times. Judi Sohn has also mentioned them a few times including recently.

The latest from Evernote seems to be some tweaking to add more finesse to the application’s versions on the Web, via Mobile Web and on the iPhone such as:

  • Rich text editing including bullets, colors, and styles on their Web version.
  • A new web clipper Firefox and Flock extension for Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • The ability to change the title of a note during web clipping
  • The ability to edit text notes on Evernote Mobile Web and soon on iPhone.

I like the way Evernote uses social media communications to stay in touch with customers including FriendFeed and via a Facebook fan page.

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Brain Tickler Tools for Story Ideas – Part 2

Last week, I took a look at what I called “Brain Tickler Tools” – Notefish and Instapaper – tools that went beyond bookmarking but actually helped me create some kind of writer’s tickler file where I could return anytime and browse over content to get ideas for articles and blog posts. I promised to check out a few more recommended by the WWD community.

Evernote clip viewI have to say that my experience with two other apps – Evernote (still in limited beta) and Google Notebook – was quite different from the first two I tried. They didn’t work as well for me. Hey, I’ve got to be honest here but also should clarify my criteria for what “works well for me” means.

  1. This is just my opinion.
  2. I need things to be very intuitive.
  3. Because I don’t read instructions.
  4. Because my brain would explode if I did and starts to smoke when I try.

So in the name of saving my brain, I jump right into using an application and then see how often I use it. Does it become second nature to me? Or am I constantly having to think about using it and how to use it properly?

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Evernote = Ubiquitous Personal Memory

Evernote, which was once a Windows-only, highly-complex clippings database, has re-invented itself with a new 3.0 beta release that combines a feature-smart client for OS X (& Windows) with creative and handy web & mobile functionality to ensure you never forget anything. I managed to wait in the beta line long enough to get an invite and wanted to share the first impressions of the program.

The developers of Evernote seemed to have a single principle in mind when developing their new software/service: make it as easy and painless as possible to capture any bit of visual or textual information anywhere you happen to be at any time. From screen captures, to to-do lists, to quick notes via text or e-mail to impromptu captures from your cell phone camera, Evernote removes all barriers to memory.

At its core, Evernote is just a simple, tagged database of images or text/HTML presented via the web and web service (unpublished and used only by Evernote). While you can perform many tasks in-browser, lets focus on some of the more interesting features of the Mac client.
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NBC Finds More People Watching Full Episodes

NBC released new research today that it says shows a large chunk of its online audiences are watching full-length episodes of programs — and better remembering the ads in them. The research was funded by NBC, so take it with a grain of self-promoting salt, but it does seem to fall in line with previous independent research.

NBC found 77 percent of its NBC Rewind player users were streaming shows as a complement to TV viewing, with most saying they were catching up on missed episodes. Solutions Research Group had earlier found that 20 percent of the U.S. online population watched TV on the web on a weekly basis, and 21 percent of all visits to major network sites were to watch a specific show. The NBC number is a little vague as to how many “most” is, but its numbers do suggest that people are searching for particular shows.

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Palm Centro arrives at AT&T, here’s a video overview

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQU_TkUp_TY]

I think 2007 will be the year where mobile technology vendors proved that inexpensive doesn’t necessarily mean cheap and unusable. It happened with the Asus Eee PC and then again with Palm’s Centro for Sprint. The trend continues in 2008 now that a Palm Centro has arrived on AT&T’s GSM network. This $99 Palm OS smartphone has definitely impressed me over the past few days of hands-on use, but I’m just getting started. Remember, in my years of using mobile tech, I’ve never purchased a Palm device so this loaner is intriguing. Folks that use feature phones don’t have to spend much more to get a full-featured smartphone and I think that’s why we’re seeing so many Palm Centro units fly off the shelves. The full press release with details follows and in this short video, I give you a very quick look at the device and its capabilities. I’ll have more thoughts over the next week or two before I return the unit.
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How Second Life found its 2nd wind.

“Second Life was just unfundable,” Linden Labs founder Philip Rosedale tells Inc. magazine, in this interview. We’re huge fans of Inc. at Found|READ, a traditional magazine dedicated to entrepreneurs that is just full of great business tales and profiles. The site also has a fantastic “resource center” (at top left on home page) where all kinds of actionable tips and advice can be found under the “Start Up” tab, like: how to pick a corporate structure; how to woo an angel investor; how to manage your cash flow. A lot fo the topics are the same ones we cover here. But you can never have to much education on this stuff and different perspectives can only help.
Which is why we go to Inc’s site often looking for inspiration — and today we found the tale of Rosedale, the man behind Linden Lab’s massively succesful interactive universe, Second Life. As with many other founders, the journey hasn’t been easy for Rosedale, who left a job with Real Networks so he could begin work on his “lifelong dream of building a virtual-reality environment.” That was back in 1999. There were some tight years and at least one round of layoffs, but today Second Life has millions of users and has spawned an entire virtual economy. Rosedale calls his success “almost surreal.” But listenting to him talk about the experience with Inc. we learn his success is anything but surreal — it is a product of some very good decision-making on Rosedale’s part, at a few very critical moments.
We’ve highlighted some of the many impressive lessons to be taken from Rosedale’s conversation with Inc. below (but do read the whole piece):
1) Rosedale recognized his big idea for Second Life early, AND that it was too early for the market. So he waited…

I moved to the Bay Area and I moved my office right next to these four guys who were building one of the early Internet service providers….I said, Man, you could use the Internet to hook together a lot of computers. You could simulate a world and then we could all go in there.
But then I said, This is a nonstarter right now because for this to be interesting it has to be sexy, it has to be fun, it has to be fast, it has to be within human response times. It has to be like a video game. And in the mid-’90s you couldn’t do 3-D on a PC.

2) Rosedale recognized that he needed more training if he was to be successful with his Big Idea later on.

I felt that what I was going to build someday, Second Life, was going to be extremely complex from a systems and software standpoint. I needed some experience working with other people and learning how you get people to work together and work on a really big system. I figured I would get to see all that at Real [Networks where he worked before founding Linden Labs]. And I did.

3) Even with big-name backers, Rosedale heard ‘No’ a lot because not everyone accepted his vision. But he understood that they accepted HIM. So he kept going.

Second Life was just unfundable. It was just the dumbest idea ever. Mitch Kapor [the founder of Lotus Development] was the only person who got it. Mitch invested in 2001 after I had invested about a million dollars of my own money. I think some of the early angel investors were largely investing in me. They thought I seemed to be a capable, balanced, good-engineering-background entrepreneur, so I could figure out something. … But we could convince absolutely no one that what we were doing made any sense. People said the technology can’t possibly be made to work smoothly because there are too many problems with building a simulation combined with broadband, combined with streaming, combined with rendering, talking to many computers at once, the whole idea is just completely impossible.

4) When he saw that word-of-mouth marketing wasn’t working, Rosedale bit the bullet and made lay-offs.

There were six very quiet years. It wasn’t discouraging the first couple of years because we were just having fun. When we got to be 20, 25 employees it got pretty stressful. What we didn’t really think about was if the content alone is what compels other people to come and join, then you have a pure word-of-mouth exponential growth model, and that means you are going to have to wait a long time for the plane to take off…When we couldn’t grow it as quickly as it needed to, we had one round of layoffs. There were 31 of us and 11 of us left. That was in late 2003, when we pretty well thought we were dead.

5) Finally, he recognized that getting customer buy-in meant “letting go” of the development, and placing it in the hands of his users. The rest is history.

And then we did one discontinuous thing: We recognized that there was a core of people who were really starting to want to build the content and invest in it and really value it. And we said, What you have in Second Life is real and it is yours. It doesn’t belong to us. We have no claim to it. Whatever you do with Second Life is your own intellectual property. You can claim copyright on it. You can make money. We said the same thing about land: Land is yours to own and resell. We had been reading Hernando De Soto’s The Mystery of Capital and Jane Jacobs and all these books about innovation and ownership and why great places are great places. And we said, Let’s just make this a real world. Let’s let it have a real economy and let’s make property have real value. There was a lot of buzz around that. The investors could see this thing starting to go. In early 2004 we got a couple million bucks more.

There is a lot more, so like we said, read the whole interview with Rosedale here. Also pay attention to the books he references in Point #5. And remember: we’re building a reading list here at Found|READ, so if you have titles to suggest, or story ideas to share, by all means: send ’em on! Share. Learn. Succeed.

Sling Scores a Touchdown with NFL/DirectTV

Updated: Sling Media, the early leaders in place-shifting technology have scored a touchdown – they are working with DirecTV on a new offering called SuperCast.
As part of this deal, viewers can get online streams of NFL games every Sunday. The deal has been rumored for a while, but it has been confirmed by a company spokesperson. I couldn’t get the details last night since it was very late, but we spoke to the company and here is the lowdown.
First of all you don’t need a Sling Player to get this video package and you don’t need the Sling software. The video steams are accessed with the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. If you are a DirecTV/NFL Sunday (HD) package customer, then you get access to the games the web for free as part of your package.
Sling Media is providing a hosted service to DirecTV and is managing the web-operation, including authentication and also decides which streams are available to you based on where you live. The videos are being streamed off DirecTV’s servers, not Sling’s servers. Sling also built the browser-based front end for DirecTV. The service only works with IE browser, which is kinda lame. This is a new business foray for Sling, which till now has been purely a hardware vendor.
The company is looking to expand this business. John Malone, who now owns DirecTV is also an investor in Sling, as is Charlie Ergen, the maverick behind Echostar (DISH), and have been the biggest supporters of Sling. National Hockey League has also partnered with Sling for its clip-and-sling service.
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