Weekly web review 1 March 2007

Let’s see if I can introduce this as a new feature.

I had another look at Zamzar, which now allows not only conversion of different image, document and audio formats, but also conversion of videos from YouTube URLs and other flash-based movie sites. The list of supported sites is here. I had a quick look at Wikia search, which, judging from the technology which is now being quoted as being contained in it – Lucene and Nutch – seems to be a far more ordinary beast than was widely claimed. ChaCha, on the other hand, really does offer search supported by live experts. This reminded me of my old friend qunu, a system for finding volunteer tech gurus to chat with live and help you sort out your problems – and be part of the revolution. And yep, qunu is still there, still apparently growing. Casting my net wider, I found kasamba, which allows people to also get paid for their services – complete with customer ratings. click4assistance has a colourful website advertising their engine for doing the same on your company website. I don’t know whether this is what Rackspace use on their website, or whether they rolled their own. As always the same technology is available from a number of other vendors, including groopz and WebsiteAlive. I’ll certainly believe the statistics that most web customers have questions beyond what most FAQs offer. A positive surprise was the website of my – admittedly pricey – broadband provider, Zen Internet. Their website seems to have an answer for everything (actually, I did ring them up with two questions before signing up, and they answered them gracefully, not to mention not keeping me in a loop on their phone system). Finally, everyone and their aunt is talking about SecondLife. I tried it and found it laggy and boring, but maybe that’s because my laptop isn’t a Core 2 Duo. In any case, I don’t buy into the hype (yes, that is a pun). Just another opportunity for us to become even more socially inept. No, thankee! No doubt Linden Labs make a lot of money out of this. And btw, Linden Lab does not have any track record before SecondLife, as everybody keeps implying. They just have a nice name. Did anyone watch Batman Forever? Or the Matrix (of course, everybody has seen that, right?) Oh, and if you liked Minority Report, you should watch The Power of Nightmares.

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