Elance adds video chat to its virtual workrooms

Elance recently introduced video chat to its users as a new feature embedded directly into the site. That will allow employers and contractors to have face-to-face communication without having to open a different application or video chat client.

Socialtext and A Theory of Collaboration and Networks

core and peripheryI recently spoke with Ross Mayfield, founder of Socialtext, about his product – an enterprise-level group collaboration platform – and he shared some theories of collaboration that led to the development of the software.

He spoke about the construction of a social network and how our networks have dense cores (strong ties) surrounded by dynamic peripheries (looser ties).

The core of an organization – such as the leadership team – tends to work closely together. They process information well and can usually make decisions quickly and effectively. The rest of the team, however, is the dynamic periphery and there is strength in these weak ties.

Traditional groupware serves the dense core, says Mayfield, never connecting to the weak ties. However, tapping into the periphery – the distributed team – can accelerate a project and a process cycle. Socialtext is meant to save the time individuals spend seeking information or the right people with the information or skills they need to get a job done.

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Zapproved: Streamline Decisions

ScreenshotDo distributed teams need a better solution for tracking and making decisions? Zapproved thinks so, and they’ve built a tool to be that solution. The idea is relatively simple: when you’ve got a proposal that needs to be signed off on by everyone on your team, you create it in Zapproved’s web interface. The service then sends emails to everyone with great big “Approve”, “Deny”, and “Comment” buttons. An online console lets you track the progress of your proposals towards (hopefully) group acceptance.

Zapproved also lets you attach files to documents, as well as setting due dates, priorities, and project names. Although you need an account to use the service, the others on your team do no. If your team is distributed and you spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down consensus on routine matters, it’s worth a look. Zapproved is free while in beta, though they do say there will be a charge at launch.

Restore abruptly closed web sessions in IE with IEPlus

Ieplus_session_restore

One of the many reasons I enjoy using Firefox so much is the ability to restore a browsing session if the app closes accidentally on purpose. You know what I mean: you close the app without intending to or it crashes. You can easily restore your last session, complete with multiple tabs if you had them open when re-opening Firefox. So what’s an Internet Explorer user to do? You can have multiple tabs in IE7, but you’re SOL on restoring your session if the app closes, right?

Try loading up the free IEPlus add-in and you’ll be able to restore your browsing session in IE, according to Amit at Digital Insipiration. If you choose not to restore your full session, you can pick and choose from a list of previously opened sites; a nice feature. IEPlus also adds in features like close tab on double click, super drag and drop, browse historymanagement, multi-proxy management, mouse gesture, ads block based onURL and content, URL shortcuts. IEPlus is supported on IE6 for XP and IE7 for Vista.

BlinkX revs it up a notch

check flagGentlemen…. start your (search) engines! BlinkX, my favorite desktop search tool (for windows/ it is pretty lame on a Mac) is getting ready to announce a brand new partnership with Revs.TV, which will bring racing content – you know F-1, rallies and motocross stuff – to BlinkX users. Consumers searching for Formula 1 content on blinkx TV, will for example, find footage of private track action, team stories away from the circuit, plus the latest cars unveiled by Toyota, B.A.R and most teams, which will be automatically linked to Revs.tv footage.

Now don’t confuse this with live broadcasts of the races, but think of it as a resource of a more archivial nature. You can catch some cool driving by late Ayrton Senna, Professor Prost, and Nelson Piquet. (You can guess my age, just by those names alone!) BlinkX indexes the entire video stream at source, which enables users to cut right to the critical moment in the action by typing a few words into the search box. Given that I am a big fan of formula one racing and rally driving, well could not have asked for more.