Beta Watch: Kickstart, Opera, GoldMail

If you can't remember the words to your college's fight song, you're probably not among the people targeted for Kickstart, Yahoo's free new social network, now in a public beta. Kickstart squarely focuses on students and recent graduates trying to find a company cubicle to call their own. The basic Kickstart page looks like a résumé with work and education sections and is pretty no-nonsense: It has no space for the freeform chatting and photos that are staples of other social networks.

With the new public beta of the free Opera Web browser, you can automatically synchronize your bookmarks with Opera on another PC, or with the Opera Mini browser on your phone. And if you're at a machine that has only Internet Explorer or Firefox, you can access your bookmarks at a page on Opera's site. Another cool feature: full text search of your history pages, which helps you easily find pages that you should have bookmarked but didn't. If only more Web sites worked properly with Opera.

Ever since e-mail became the Internet's killer app, people have been trying to improve on it. The latest attempt is GoldMail, which transmutes an e-mail message into a sort of narrated slide show. Once you've downloaded the 11.4MB application, you can choose photos, screen shots, or PowerPoint slides to put into your message. Then you record a voice-over to explain the images, or choose a music file to accompany them. To share your project, you can e-mail a link to your creation or embed it in a blog or Web page. GoldMail looks useful for salespeople and other folks who really need visuals to get their message across. But it's too much of a hassle for run-of-the-mill notes.