Monthly Archives: December 2006

Hey! Watch

Hey!Watch allows users to import files to the service in a number of ways, including uploading from a hard drive or simply putting in the URL of a video froa YouTube or other popular online video service. But they also allow users to upload videos via a RSS feed, so new enclosures from future show will automatically be uploaded as well. The company has also created bookmarklets and a Firefox plugin to import a video from a currently viewed website to the service with a single click.Once files are uploaded, they can be converted to all of the usual formats and then downloaded. And they’ve also used RSS intelligently here as well – they’ve created a RSS feed for all of a user’s converted files, so they can simply be gathered from a feed reader without going back to the Hey!Watch site each time.

There’s a use case for this that is really compelling – any time you see a video on YouTube or another site that you want to keep, all you have to do is hit the button on the bookmarklet, and later gather the file from the RSS feed. Those files can be in MPEG4 format for an iPod, or DVD format for burning to a DVD. Want to create a DVD for a friend of your favorite YouTube music videos? This service is going to make that dead simple.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. All of the key functionality is available via a REST API, for developers to build directly into their products.

Hey!Watch will have a free version, along with a premium version with higher limits on total upload limits, maximum video size and length, etc. [www.techcrunch.com]

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LibraryThing


LibraryThing is almost certainly the leading independent social network for books, although a newcomer just created a rival product – Shelfari launched in October and aims to represent your book collection on a virtual bookshelf. They also support profile pages and networks of friends. LibraryThing’s new recommendations are neat, but they also highlight a major competitor: Amazon. Amazon are certainly getting wise to social networking, and could spell trouble.

BookTribes

Booktribes is a new social network for book lovers. List the books on your shelf and the titles you’re reading, find users with similar tastes and join groups. All the basics seem to be present, but we’re less blown away than we were by rivals Shelfari and LibraryThing.

TactPro


TactPro is a complete office management suite that allows you and your company to really be on the same page using collaboration tools such as shared calendars, hierarchy-based project management, auto-updating shared contacts, CRM/Opportunity Managment, Online Document Storage and more.

Tioti

Tioti combines TV torrents with social recommendations. The name is short for “Tape It Off the Internet” – think of it as a TiVo for Internet TV. Tioti was created by London-based Neuromantics and one of the aims is to break down the segmented global release schedules, where a TV show might be shown in one country years before it’s released elsewhere. The service currently lists more than 16,000 TV shows and 88,000 episodes. I tested the latest version earlier today – and while all the features aren’t yet live, I got a good taste of what’s to come.

First off, the design is gorgeous. It’s reminiscent of Apple’s interface elements (shiny surfaces, reflections, lots of black) and features plenty of ajaxy touches. Your homepage displays recommended shows, and you can quickly add these to your collection or delete the recommendations altogether. The homepage also lists your favorite shows, your friend’s favorites and (in the next release) your Top 10 picks.

Each show has its own page complete with RSS feeds and commenting. You can also edit the show’s information using a neat wiki-like tool. And of course you can download individual episodes. While some of the sources may be of questionable legality (The Pirate Bay, for instance), Tioti aims to add more legitimate download sources over time – these could include iTunes, Google Video and Guba.

Despite the fact that some features aren’t live yet – groups, tags and Top 10 lists, for instance – it’s obvious that Tioti is going to win some fans in the tech community. My only concern is whether they can dodge the thorny legal issues that could arise – they’ll need to emphasise the legal download sources if they want to stay out of trouble. It’s also interesting to note that Tioti’s development was started before the rise of YouTube: are these services competitive or complementary?[www.mashable.com]

TagWorld


Tagworld’s new music recommendation engine just went live , and it’s pretty darned good. Like Pandora, it streams music and can recommend new choices based on some pre-programmed criteria. What’s more, it has Last.fm-style social recommendations. I haven’t had time to fully grok the tech, but I can tell you that the music rocks – without any customization whatsoever, it’s already spewing out some excellent tracks.

My Tagworld insider (thanks, Fred!) tells me they’re still tweaking the recommendation system, and so the service won’t be released to non-Tagworlders for a few more weeks. Still, it’s worth signing up for a Tagworld account to give it a spin. The music plays in a pop-up window (no download!) and the streaming is flawless.

Tagworld has also partnered with Universal Music to serve up music videos from 50 Cent, Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, Kanye West, Nelly, The Killers, Jack Johnson, U2, Fall Out Boy, Snoop Dog, The Bravery and Daddy Yankee. That’s an impressive list, and a bonus for mainstream music fans (geez, that sounds insincere!). Nonetheless, it’ll be hard to market this to anyone outside of the Tagworld demographic. For that simple reason, I don’t think this is a rival to Last.fm and Pandora; although comparisons are inevitable, the target audience is completely different. MySpace, meanwhile, might be a bit uneasy about its rival’s blistering feature development. The question is: can you really win this battle with features? We’re told it’s a fickle market, but what would it take to make them switch?

You can try out the music recommendation engine by logging in to Tagworld (or signing up) and clicking the music tab.[www.mashable.com]

Project Opus


ProjectOpus is a music community along the lines of the excellent PureVolume, connecting fans and artists at a local level. The service seems to be free for everyone involved, and ProjectOpus makes its money from paid downloads. From the site:

Project Opus™ is an online music community designed to support artists, fans and local music. It is a single point of contact for discovery of new music. We have two goals:
1. make it incredibly easy for bands to self-publish music, find their audience and then get paid for the sale and licensing of their music, and
2. make it incredibly easy for fans to find music they love and support the artists that make it.

It’s all about the content, and in this case the content is truly excellent. Nonetheless, many of these music communities are still fairly centralized – personally, I’d like to see a more open approach. Think of ProjectOpus as an edge feeder for music – a service that makes it easy to put music widgets on MySpace or mash up the content with recommendation engines like Last.fm.

To give them their due, ProjectOpus is one of the most forward-thinking players in this space: they allow users to create their own sharable playlists and export them to Webjay. (Obviously putting a widget on your MySpace profile would make a lot more sense, but it’s a step in the right direction.) The next logical move is to solve the API issue, and allow services like Podbop to automatically aggregate your music while keeping your business model intact. Either way, building a standalone music community is hard – it’s much easier (and more profitable) to feed the MySpace beast. [www.mashable.com]