5 examples of "really good stuff"

In the quest to keep you, dear reader, entertained and informed I undertake extensive research to find what's hot, interesting and useful. This means that I spend a lot of time looking at "stuff" of which only a small fraction of the "really good stuff" gets published.

This, in turn, creates quite a backlog of "really good stuff" and so, in an attempt to clear at least part of the log jam, today I'm going to give you five "quickies" ... short summaries of some of this "really good stuff" that you might find useful.

If you've got any service or products you'd highly recommend, send me a short summary and links to your own "really good stuff" and we'll see about publishing the best recommendations.

1. Kayako is a very impressive help desk system that is available in three levels: Resolve, which is the trouble ticket handling system; Engage, which provides real-time customer interaction; and Fusion, which combines the features of both Resolve and Engage. Kayako is available as both software as a service (starting at $29 per agent per month for either Resolve or Engage, or $49 per agent per month for Fusion) or as a self-hosted implementation starting at $599 for 10 agents (PHP and MySQL required). What's particularly interesting is that this product has some powerful APIs that allow for tremendous extensibility. Showcase users include Georgetown University, Sony BMG, Unisys, and Skype. For non-profits and open source projects the self-hosted version is free! Gearhead rating 5 out of 5.

2. Symposia provides a whole new way to handle Web mediated conferences. A cloud- and web browser-based service, Symposia provides an audio conferencing service with support for showing PowerPoint and other presentation material and it records everything. During a meeting the timeline can be marked with various flags indicating identified to-do's, important items, and items of concern. Participants and authorized users can browse the recordings and jump to the various flagged items for review. Participants can also add their own notes and upload images. Pricing is very reasonable at $35 per host (conference organizer) per month for any number of conference with up to 15 people per conference. Gearhead rating 5 out of 5.

3. Semantria is a service that can take large amounts of text data and extract meaning and analyze sentiment. The service very cleverly uses Wikipedia as its semantic thesaurus and it can be easily used to analyze a data set through an Excel add-in or, using a JSON-based API with Java, .Net, Python, and PHP wrappers, it can be integrated with any application. A Web demo is available so you can test it with your own data. This is a powerful enterprise tool for analysis of customer interactions and social media analysis. Pricing starts at $1,000 for 100,000 API calls per month. Gearhead rating 5 out of 5.

4. AccountKiller is where you need to go when you've had enough of social media. This web service provides information on how to remove, or try to remove, yourself from a current list of 471 sites. The service tells you how difficult getting your account killed off will be (for Spotify: "You have to send an email to support@spotify.com and provide them with your username, date of birth and postal code and they'll apparently delete the account for you. That's not very user-friendly. However, as one of our visitors pointed out, they're not too keen on responding. You might have to send them a few requests.") Invaluable and free ... and check out the "blacklist" of sites that you can't get yourself removed from (which includes Wordpress, Gravatar, and phpBB? Who knew?). Gearhead rating 5 out of 5.

5. Followupthen is a service that uses email to nudge you to follow up on something. You just send a message from your email client and include [schedule format]@followupthen.com in the "Cc", "Bcc" or "To" fields of your email. The [schedule format] can be a time interval ("10minutes" or "tuesday" or "dec4") and if you send the message TO only the service you'll get a followup at the scheduled time, while if you BCC the service it will send the message to whoever you're sending to and then follow up with just you. If you CC the service both you and your recipient will receive a followup. Premium users can append "-sms" to the [schedule format] (i.e. "4hours-sms") to generate text messages as reminders. This is simply brilliant and it's free! Premium accounts (which include SMS reminders, attachments to messages, Web interface for followup management, branding, grouping of multiple email address under one account, and the ability to add, edit, and view upcoming followups in your Google, iCal, or Outlook calendar) is an incredibly reasonable $4.99 per month. Gearhead rating 5 out of 5.

Gibbs has way too much "really good stuff" lying around in Ventura, Calif. Add to his backlog at gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter and App.net (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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