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Overwhelmed With Gadgets? Here's a Dinosaur.

Inside, a Linux operating system allows the machine's software to monitor inventory and sales data and beam it wirelessly back to the machine's owner. Still in field testing, MooBella proved simple to use for the scores of people who lined up here to touch its menu buttons and get fresh ice cream.

The same could not be said of all the other products shown at the two-day show, which ended last night. Some Web software and services, in particular, seemed like overkill for the problems they were trying to solve. It was especially hard for me to imagine people taking time to learn and personalize all the new social Web services vying to be your new best friend.

Still, the conference that has produced such past hits as the Palm Pilot and TiVo did feature some promising items this year. Each reflected trends of one sort or another. A few of my favorites:

· Booksmart: Next month a Web self-publishing service is launching that will automate the layout and design of any hardbound books you choose to make -- cookbooks, photo essays, event journals, family life stories -- at reasonable prices ($30 for 40 pages, or $80 for up to 400 pages.) Created by a startup called Blurb Inc., Booksmart provides publishing templates that accept any text or photos. It can import an entire Web log using a "blog slurper" tool that lets you modify any of your Web pages before printing. http://www.blurb.com/

· Riya: This start-up is preparing to release a Web photo service that uses automation and face recognition to organize photo collections. Riya's software peers into the pixels of images to analyze their patterns, identify faces, read any text it finds and then index or "tag" all the photos. To use the service, users will upload their photos to the free Riya Web site, which also provides traditional image-editing and organizing tools. http://www.riya.com/

· Radar: Managing and sharing pictures on camera phones was a big theme here. A start-up called Tiny Pictures Inc. ( http://www.tinypictures.us/ ) showed an impressive service called Radar that struck me as potentially addictive. Radar sends any photo you snap on the go to Tiny Picture's computers, where it's organized into mini-albums and "channels" that you can see on your phone and instantly share with friends. Founder John Poisson snapped my picture with his phone at lunch and in a few seconds, it appeared on the Nokia phone of a colleague sitting next to him. Two other exhibitors, Sharpcast and Vizrea Corp., also showed services simplifying the process of moving photos from cell phones to desktops and the Web.

· My People: One of many Internet calling services on display here, My People ( http://www.mypeople.com/ ) offers unlimited local and long-distance calling over the Internet for $25 a month, but that is not its main innovation. The Birmingham company (which competes with the popular Vonage calling service) bundles in many extra services, including wake-up calls, reminder calls, group calling and 4-cents-a-minute international calling. Also intriguing was software from Eqo Communications Inc. ( http://www.eqo.com/ ) that you can install on your cell phone, which will make your buddy list from Skype's popular Internet calling service available on your mobile phone.

· Digislide: After they put cameras in cell phones, what next? Projectors, of course, so you can blow up those tiny images for a better look. That's the idea behind this new micro-optical device, anyway. Developed by an Australian firm, it is slightly smaller than your thumb and turns cell phones and other handheld devices into mini-projectors that will blow up any image -- or video, for that matter -- stored on your phone into a 11-by-17-inch image. http://www.digislide.com.au/

Leslie Walker welcomes e-mail atwalkerl@washpost.com.


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