Chewing on TechCrunch party tidbits

Product pitches and venture riches were on display at the TechCrunch party in Menlo Park last weekend.

Elsa Wenzel
4 min read

I eatd mini cheezburger at the TechCrunch party at August Capital on Friday, as LOLCats would say. There were other morsels there too, some tastier than others.

Remember before the Internet came along, when you could call a 900 telephone number to talk to "Santa Claus?" Dial Directions feels nostalgic like that. Being directionally challenged, I consider it a gift. You literally dial "DIRECTIONS" on your cell phone and get a turn-by-turn text message. The service is available in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles during beta testing. It did a pretty good job recognizing the street names I mumbled.

Real Time Matrix showed off its iJ.am vortex widget, which delivers your cherry-picked ticker of text atop ads and videos. You can share content via IM, mobile phone, or e-mail. I like iJ.am's rich customization, but its site should lead more clearly to the free signup. Some people will hate video widgets as much as animated banner ads, but there's little hope for those souls. Online publishing is getting more modular, with more modules singing and dancing with data and features, as home pages like Netvibes and Pageflakes take off and widgets galore fill up Facebook pages.

Unlike most other social shopping sites, Wishpot provides an easy way to add goods from the real world to your account. From a mobile phone, you can snap a photo of hot pants or cool gadgets you crave, then send the picture to Wishpot to flaunt your taste or give other people a sense of the kinds of gifts you might want. Kaboodle still feels like a more fun time-waster for a mouse potato.

CollegeWikis seems like it could be useful for helping clueless freshmen to figure out what's happening on campus, especially at universities with incomplete Web sites. Naturally, there's a Facebook widget. The pages for 10 U.S. colleges are sparsely populated so far. Like any wiki, the success will be determined by its grassroots growth, but the introductory video is about as cool as a "Saved by the Bell" rerun.

We're all specks in the cosmos, but if you fear adding your autobiography to Wikipedia because someone might delete your insignificant self, then hail WikiYou to the rescue. It's got the grand plan of profiling everyone on the planet, starting with a stable of celebrities. There are ten pages worth of profiles for Jennifers so far. I don't think I want my sordid past up there next to Lindsay Lohan's, but anybody could post an unauthorized biography of me, or you, or your mother, because WikiYou's whole point seems to be to give the finger to services that only favor "reliable sources." And you thought growing up with Google was bad for your reputation? Am I missing something?

Having so many popular Web sites short out last week from power hiccups in downtown San Francisco is a sharp reminder of the fragility of digital data. But the Internet Archive is supposed to last forever. Now so are the stories you upload to Story of My Life. Asteroid strike or nuclear winter aside, the service promises to hang onto your memories for many generations, longer than even, say, MyDeathSpace. I like that the site's straightforward name leaves no vowels behind, and the clear design looks like something my mom could handle, despite a lackluster logo. You can upload pictures, join groups, and keep "Top" 10 lists. Geneaology tie-ins could come down the road.

Zenfolio photo hosting displays your pictures (and those from the party) in full-screen glory instead of eensy weensy sizes shown on Flickr and elsewhere. For $25 a year you get 1GB with a custom domain name. It's $40 for unlimited storage. I'm sure Zenfolio does cool stuff (so does Zooomr) but I personally can't deal with switching to yet another picture-pages site, scattering my snapshots to the four winds. Still, motivated shutterbugs might want to check it out.

One of the early Web-based life-greening tools, ZeroFootprint connects you to buying carbon offsets to match your wicked, world-wasting ways. I saw signs of other unfinished green sites at the party but didn't catch up with the people behind them. Beware, as I may resort to stalking to find out more, but it's all for the planet's sake.

Erica has already covered Jaman, but I just want to chime in. I've always wished for easier access to foreign movies, although Facets was an incredible resource while growing up. Cable services charge too much for TV stations from abroad. Jaman serves up crisp, high-definition films from around the world in their full, crisp glory. You can rate films and upload your own either as a Flash file that anyone can play in a browser, or as an encrypted H.264 file. Fun.

The folks from Ooma, hyped as a "Kill Bell" revolutionary phone service, seemed to be feeling 10 feet tall from so much buzz around the "white rabbit" beta launch. I have nothing to add about it, except for this picture of the coveted token.