Mindquarry's core product is a collaboration server that allows teams to collaborate on documents, as well as via wikis and shared tasks. It's an interesting product now, but should get much better with the release of its email integration, due out this summer according to the company's roadmap. All in all, it feels like a simple alternative to Sharepoint or Basecamp, a comparison the company has made.… Read more
CHICAGO--Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers disagrees with BusinessWeek's recent article that claims the telecommunications industry has risen from the dead.
In Chambers' view, the telecom market is simply entering the second phase of its life cycle--a cycle he claims to have envisioned some 15 years ago when Cisco pledged to change the way people work, live and play.
"BusinessWeek got it wrong," he said. "Telecom is not back from the dead. It's merely in phase 2 of its development. In this second phase, collaboration or sharing with a large group will change the service model … Read more
Google has added a new option to Google Docs and Spreadsheets to make files open for others to look at without the need to register or sign in with a Google account. To make any doc or spreadsheet open, users can click option for "invitations may be used by anyone" in the "Share" tab. Once enabled, any invite to view the spreadsheet will take users right to it, bypassing any annoying log-in screens. Users will still need to log in and be on the collaborators list to make any editing changes, but this should open things … Read more
Review Basics is a collaborative workspace for small teams and businesses. It runs right in your browser, and offers a fairly simple and straightforward way for others to share and leave feedback on photos, video files, and office documents. The interface runs entirely in Flash, so there are no special extensions to download, or programs that need to be installed on your computer. Just start up a workspace and go.
Review Basics works with a variety of common office document standards like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF. It also can handle uploading an entire zipped folder, so if you get a zipped attachment in an e-mail, you can upload it straight to the service without having to unpack it and send files one at a time. Review Basics also handles videos, although they have to be in the .FLV Flash format, which despite its popularity on the Internet, isn't a consumer-friendly standard compared to .MOV and .AVI. Files are capped off at 25MB apiece, so if you're working with any video clip over a minute or two, it's likely to be too large.
Annotating media is fairly simple. Users get five different tools to mark what's on the screen: boxes, arrows, a highlighter, call-outs, and emoticons. There is no drawing tool, which is one thing I enjoy and make use of on other collaborative workspace services like ConceptShare [hands-on] and Octopz [hands-on]. I think at a basic level it makes things feel familiar, like using a pen. There are still boxes which can be resized and color coded, but for irregularly shaped elements, you're out of luck.
To separate which feedback is being displayed, you can toggle each person's edits on and off. It's a lot like PhotoShop when you show or hide layers, and useful when you have more than two or three people working on a piece of media at a time, as things tend to get crowded.
Review Basics is very versatile for a free app, but it's missing a few things I think would make it far more competitive in this space. I'd like a way to leave audio or video notes. Some people (like me) find it easier to hit a record button, say something and move on, instead of writing it out. I'd also like to see live chat or live video conferencing, something that can take telephones out of the equation for both businesses and customers. The service is planning on moving to a paid model in the future, adding these things would certainly put it in the realm of some of the other services charging monthly fees.
The team has put together a series of hands-on demos you can play with to get a feel for the service. [More screens after the break.]
Octopz (pronounced 'Octopus') is a Web-based, online collaboration tool for small groups. It's one of the many companies presenting at next week's Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco, and is making its public launch on Monday.
Octopz runs in its own browser window and uses Adobe Flash to mix a whiteboard space with live text, voice, and video chat. The workspace has an area to upload and share files with other group members. Each uploaded file gets its own folder, which houses any edits made by group members. For example, if you're making notes on a digital photograph, other members can create a copy of that photo and add their own notes. Each version is neatly stacked underneath the original. All group edits are saved and stored, and can be shared and edited later for asynchronous collaboration.
Things get a little tricky with Octopz's multiuser controls. Anyone can grab control of the workspace at any time, which in testing led to some minor power struggles. There's also not a way to keep track of which group member made which edits, either with a history or differentiating colors per each user. Despite these issues, Octopz handled a four-person conference from three different geographical locations smoothly.
Octopz comes in at $99 per month per license, which is twice the cost of the standard version of Adobe Connect. However unlike Acrobat Connect, Octopz lets businesses create an unlimited amount of rooms and users, something you don't even get with Adobe's professional level of Acrobat Connect service.
Update: Fixed pricing clarification regarding comparison to Acrobat Connect. Also, Octopz was picked as one of our Top 5 favorites from the Web 2.0 Expo earlier this month.
For more screenshots of Octopz in action, keep reading.
Box.net, the online storage service, has updated their embeddable widget with a new group sharing feature for members with premium and professional accounts. Users can password protect a shared folder, which can then be accessed privately by others with the code. Storage owners can opt-in to allow user uploading, which lets anyone with access add files. The company is gearing it at businesses, whereas its previous widget incarnation was aimed at users with social networking profiles.
For group users to keep track of updates to shared folders, each share gets its own RSS feed. Once subscribed, the name and … Read more
Wetpaint, the wiki editing and hosting service, added private and group messaging this morning. The new service allows users to communicate one-on-one just like e-mail, and gives wiki administrators a new way to communicate to those moderating and contributing to their pages.
Sending a message in the service is pretty simple. If you're signed in, just click a user's name to pull up a "send message" pop-up. If you want to send out a group message, just start typing in names and the service will pull them up (like Gmail does).
HiTask is a(really simple collaborative task management tool for small groups. Members can create tasks, meetings, reminders, notes, and birthdays to add to their own schedule or assign to others. The entire interface is drag-and-drop, and any actions by team members will instantly be reflected on your tasks page. It's a mix of a scheduling app and to-do list tool that's dead simple to use. In testing, we were making and managing several projects in less than five minutes without reading any documentation, which bodes well if you're collaborating with non-tech-savvy people.
Assigning tasks to other users is really simple. Once you've created a task, you can just drag it over to the group member's name. You'll get a note on the task letting you know who you've assigned it to, and as soon as they're done with it you'll be notified in real time. Likewise, when a group member assigns something to you, it will show up on your schedule, along with a note of who it's from. The one thing missing from HiTask is the option to view other members' schedules, which would be helpful--especially for gauging how much is on someone's plate.
If you do need to talk, there's a built-in chat module, which is limited to one-on-one. There's no way to group chat, or share files like you get with some more advanced group collaboration tools like BaseCamp, and activeCollab, but HiTask is pretty early in development.
HiTask has both a free and premium service. The free service reaches its limit at 10 tasks, making it little more than a demo. The $15 a year service provides unlimited tasks, group members, and projects. See the screenshots after the jump.
Zoho, who was at Under the Radar last week, upgraded their spreadsheet application, called Sheet, on Friday. The team added Zoho Chat integration and the ability for multiple users to work on a spreadsheet at the same time. Users of Google Spreadsheets will be accustomed to this functionality, and with the update, Zoho joins the fray of online collaborative tools (see our Under the Radar roundup of this category.)
Zoho Sheet still doesn't have the option to … Read more
Harnessing the benefits of social bookmarks in a corporate setting seems like the next big thing. And if you've ever just wanted to write directly onto a Web page, the two best options are here at UTR.
Stikkit kind of cheated. Instead of talking about its little yellow notes that think, the presentation veered off to a lovely new e-mail assistant named Sandy. Simply cc her on your e-mail, telling her what you want--contacts, tasks, events, and so on--and she'll respond right back with your information. Cool for individuals ... not so cool if you can't cc people … Read more