Nifty Web Services

By Steve Bass

Every couple of days a new Web service pops onto the scene. Some are forgettable, but the ones I’ve got for you this week are definitely keepers.

Jott: Send Yourself a Note

Say you’re driving home or walking the dog and have a gem of an idea. (Not me, of course. I’m thinking of you.) If your mobile phone lets you, you can record the thought as a personal message. But there’s a better way.

Use your speed dial to call Jott (877/568-8486). Talk for 30 seconds and Jott turns what you say into text, then sends it to you via e-mail. Have others you’d like to send a Jott to? Just add their name and e-mail address to your Jott contact list.

Use Doodle to Coordinate a Meeting

Take 50 people and try to get them to schedule a get-together or a meeting. As my friend Monica said, when she told me about Doodle, “it can be a nightmare of e-mails, and back and forth phone calls as you try to find the perfect date and time.”

The trick, she said, is to use Doodle, a free Web-based service that lets participants vote on the best time, date, location–whatever. Try a working sample, then participate in my Doodle poll to see when’s the best time to meet at my office for a cup of java. [Thanks, Monica.]

Get Hard-to-Get Web Invites

I get more than my fair share of invitations into Web-based services; I’ve tried Joost, Pownce, and GrandCentral, for instance. Lest you miss out on the fun, I’ve found a site that might make it easier for non-journalists to get invites to new services.

InviteShare lets visitors request invitations from others who have extras. If you have invites you’re not using, you can offer them on the site. Here’s a list of the most popular invitations on the site.

Dig This: When the power went out in San Francisco last week and access to our Web site was spotty, we discovered our IT Department has a sense of humor.

Get Your Blogs in E-Mail

I’ll read a blog online only if I’m forced into it. My preference is to have the blog delivered to me via e-mail. That way I can choose to read it now or later or not at all.

Yes, I know, I’m an oddity. (Don’t rub it in.) Most people seem to use one of thousands of RSS readers–but I don’t need yet another program sitting in my system tray.

For a long time, I used Squeet.com. The site let me configure all my RSS feeds for delivery by e-mail. One day Squeet stopped working. “Squeet will be unavailable while it is undergoing an extended maintenance period”, they said. Very extended.

Hamid Shojaee, the CEO of Axosoft, the brains behind Squeet, had a candid reply to my complaints: “After pushing it for nearly 8 months, we had VERY LITTLE interest in the product. Only 10,000 users (non-paying, of course) and the servers used for it were starting to choke because of the sheer volume. (Squeet checked over 50,000 feeds per day, most of them multiple times.) On top of that, Outlook 2007 and nearly every other email client also has RSS capabilities built-in. So we had a hard decision to make–keep investing in a system that seems to be a dead-end or refocus our efforts on other stuff.”

As I said, very extended.

I moved all my RSS feeds to Yahoo Alerts and it was terrific, for a while. Then it stopped.

Dig This: I love original, surprising videos. Here’s one about a bunch of Norwegian kids playing on a railroad track. I’m guessing you’ll watch it twice. [Thanks, Jack.]

Forwards From RssFwd

I’m on a new service now, RssFwd. It does what Squeet and Yahoo Alerts did; the big difference is that it still works.

It’s easy enough to use. Copy and paste a blog’s URL (try http://blogs.pcworld.com/tipsandtweaks/) into the Submit field. RssFwd finds the XML content feed.

A reader recently suggested two slick sites I definitely plan to try.

“I’ve been an e-mail subscriber for years and enjoy reading your articles. You seem to have forgotten two of the major players for to RSS to e-mail. What about Feedburner‘s e-mail service or FeedBlitz? With these you can also keep track of your subscribers and more.”
–Blog Bloke

By the by, Blog Bloke has a useful site about blogging called InstaBloke.

Dig This: You hear how often Apple iPods are stolen? Yep, they’re grabbed on subways and buses, and right on the street. That’s because iPods are distinctive and easily spotted. I found a nifty way for you to protect your iPod: Hide it inside a not-likely-to-be-stolen Microsoft Zune. Visit Hide-a-Pod for details and ordering information. [Thanks, Mike D.]

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