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[TECHNOLOGY REVIEWS]

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APP OF THE WEEK: SNAPDAT LETS THE BUSINESS CARDS FLY

One of the coolest features of the old Palm organizers was that you could beam business cards to other Palms. The iPhone will soon add a similar feature, but in the meantime there’s SnapDat, a free application that lets iPhone users send virtual business cards to other people.

SnapDat has roughly 40 card designs as templates. Users can maintain any number of designs, making sure there are different cards for different occasions. To send a card to another SnapDat user, simply look up their username on the app. Cards sent between SnapDat members are automatically transcribed into your iPhone’s address book. People who aren’t members can also receive cards, which are e-mailed as a standard vCard attachment.

On the virtual card are one-touch buttons to dial, text or e-mail the person. There is also a link to any Web pages they have specified and a button to map the card’s address. You can mark on a map where you met (“Denver sales conference ’08”), and you can “flip” the card over to make a note on the back. (“Bob likes margaritas, but watch out after his third.”)

COMING TO SAVE THE DAY: A MIGHTY MOUSE, INDEED

Talk about the mouse that roared.

It’s not for the casual gamer — or the casual anyone — but the US$500 SpacePilot Pro, arriving courtesy of the Logitech subsidiary 3Dconnexion, is full of wow for designers and engineers who work in three-dimensional computerized environments.

SpacePilot has a built-in color LCD screen, which can display e-mail, messages and other customizable visual information, but the substance of the mouse is to expedite workflow and navigation through 3-D spaces like Autodesk Inventor, Microsoft Virtual Earth and SolidWorks.

Of course, mouse fans will have to have one, if only to gaze at sexy blue lights and the Darth Vader form factor — the buttons on SpacePilot make BMW’s confusing iDrive simple by comparison. The big knob in the center twirls six ways, and it tilts and rolls as well. In Logitech-speak, the device has “six-degrees-of-freedom sensor technology … by lifting, pressing and turning the controller cap, design engineers can easily pan, zoom and rotate without stopping to select commands.”

It adds up to a virtual nirvana for fingers.

HOW TO CAMOUFLAGE YOUR TWEETING AT THE OFFICE

Twitter fans face a hurdle: Can you use it at work without being caught? A British Web developer, Elliott Kember, has solved the problem with Spreadtweet, an easy-to-use Twitter client that looks like a boring Excel spreadsheet.

Each version of the program displays a fake Excel toolbar atop its window. But those buttons don’t work. The real controls are hiding just below as fake column headers: Home, Replies, Direct Messages, etc. On my Apple desktop, Spreadtweet mimics Excel to the point of placing an Excel icon into my iMac’s Dock, so anyone watching from farther away than a cubicle wall will be fooled.

The very existence of Spreadtweet suggests Twitter is headed for the same workplace showdown as Web browsers in 1993, or Facebook in 2006: Is it better to let employees play a bit with the latest Internet fad, or have early adopters found yet another way to goof off on the job? I think the answer is yes.

CAN’T WAIT FOR 3-D TELEVISION? NEITHER CAN PANASONIC

How important is the development of 3-D television? As far as Panasonic is concerned, it’s critical.

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