Keep tabs on your web rep, your data center and your fleet

Tracking the sheer volume of verbiage posted on blogs and social networing sites, automate database tasks and decisions, and give your fleet drivers instant skills feedback

Social networks, blogs and other online forums can make or break a reputation these days, be it a company's or a product's. But the sheer volume of verbiage being posted is all but impossible to track. Unless, of course, you've got a tireless computer with clever software designed to extract meaning from content.

Jeff Catlin, CEO of Lexalytics, has such a program. Salience Engine crawls designated Web sites and compares adjective-noun and adverb-verb phrases to those in its database to distinguish positive, negative or neutral commentary about a subject, then it presents the results in a graphical report. (To see the software in action, visit www.politicaltrends.info, which keeps tabs on the ups and downs experienced by current presidential candidates.) Catlin acknowledges that the software "is not perfect." For example, it has trouble determining a pronoun's relation to an entity. But he hopes to fix that in an upcoming release. Companies involved in mergers and acquisitions can use the tool for due diligence. And brand-conscious firms can track the buzz about their wares. Although Salience Engine doesn't control the message, Catlin says, "it can help you see it coming." Pricing starts at US$50,000.

Get a Palette of Automation Options

Automating best practices in a data center is difficult, and one of the toughest nuts to crack for an autonomic specialist says Thor Culverhouse, the CEO of Stratavia. That's true in part because the nuances of various databases make it hard to apply knowledge about, say, MySQL to DB2 or Oracle. Culverhouse claims that with Data Palette 4.0, available this last month, it is now possible to automate tasks and decisions for virtually all database administrators. You can import your own scripted best practices into Data Palette or use the ones that come with the product. For example, Data Palette knows that ad hoc queries to any production database can be shut off when CPU performance is spiking. The new release adds predictive analytics so, for instance, DBAs will know in advance when storage will max out. Pricing begins at US$150,000.

Give Your Fleet Drivers Instant Skills Feedback

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that fleet drivers are twice as likely to have an accident as the average person behind the wheel. Since most fleets are self-insured, those wrecks come right off the bottom line. Paige O'Neill, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at GreenRoad Technologies, argues that the best way to reduce fleet accidents is to use a tool that nags the operator like a backseat driver - only on the vehicle's dashboard. GreenRoad's Safety Center includes sensor technology that monitors how a driver is maneuvering. It analyzes and scores 120 actions in categories such as braking and turning, and flashes a red, yellow or green light to indicate the safety level of a given maneuver. The software reports through an online service back to a fleet manager so he can counsel drivers on their abilities. O'Neill says manufacturers are looking into integrating gear like Safety Center into dashboards, but it'll be a few years before vehicles come equipped with them. Pricing starts at US$28 per driver per month.

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