September 11, 2012
Jumpshot: Clean And Optimize Your PC In One Simple Step
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Austin, Texas based Jumpshot is trying to achieve the impossible: bringing the ease of owning a Mac to the PC.
It´s an old debate, one that´s been rendered moot in recent months, what with a couple bouts of malware and Java vulnerabilities. For years, Macs have not only been known as the safer choice (no viruses!) but also as the choice of those who want a simple computer, a computer that “Just Works.”
And perhaps it´s this ease of use that people associate with safety. After all, Macs are and always have been just as susceptible to malware and viruses, but they´ve also been easier to keep up to date, doing some of the more technical heavy lifting behind the scenes, out of the users´ sight. For the layperson, keeping a Mac safe and up-to-date is as easy as installing the occasional software update and staying away from Russian sites and refraining from clicking on suspicious links in email.
It´s likely the guys at Jumpshot don´t like this rift that´s stood between the two ecosystems and simply want to create a world where all computers are safe from the evils of the Internet.
“Pedram (Jumpshot co-founder) and I had gotten so sick of all of the stuffy, non-elegant user interfaces out there. We wanted to come at this problem space in an entirely new and refreshing way,” said Jumpshot co-founder Dave Endler, speaking to redOrbit.com in an email conversation.
But how do you explain the technical babble of computer maintenance and Internet security to those who only use their computer for email and Facebook? How do you help these users who only know their computer is “running slow” or “crashing all of the time,” rather than being able to succinctly describe exactly what´s happening to their machine?
You use cutesy cartoon characters and elements of gamification, of course.
With names like “Officer Pete,” “Kobayashi,” and “Sir Jeffrey,” Jumpshot translates the entire tech support rigamarole into an animated game-like experience, one where harmful viruses and malware are now called “grime."
Rather than stealing your personal information and using your credit card number to buy furniture at the rent-to-own place, “Grime” just looks like an oil stain with red eyes. After all, that can´t be too bad, right?
In the PC world, there´s a completely different kind of “grime,” one that´s preinstalled with every computer by third-party partners: Bloatware.
“Pedram and I have been working in the security industry for years and were generally disillusioned by many of the products out there,” explained Mr. Endler.
“Spyware, poorly written software, and bloatware typically cause slowdowns and massive frustration for any PC owner. New computers are also bloated down with loads of 3rd party software that gets installed directly by the manufacturer. Many everyday consumers can get so fed up with sluggishness that they eventually just buy a brand new computer or switch to a Mac. Those who can, often enlist their tech-savvy friend's or children's help, but others are not so fortunate, and many PC owners need reliable and quick help.”
Now, with a successful Kickstarter campaign, which recently leapt past its $25,000 goal with $162,598 raised in pledges, the team at Jumpshot aims to make diagnosing and repairing PCs easier than it´s ever been before.
Doing more than just repairing these computers, Jumpshot will keep these computers running smoothly into the future.
Each step of Jumpshot´s process has a cleverly named cartoon character associated with it. For instance, Dale Jumpshot, Jr is responsible for making Windows machines boot and load more quickly. The overall-clad “Torque” tweaks your Windows machine to give it extra speed and security. “Zilch” takes care of the digital trash on your hard drive, removing it for good.
These characters were all created locally in Austin, Texas to present a new, refreshing way to look at repairing and maintaining your machine.
“Overall, the response to our "minions" has been extremely positive,” wrote Endler.
The entire process is dead simple, and is meant to be carried out by 2 types of people: Those who don´t understand their Windows machines and want an easy fix to their problems and the tech savvy family and friends who love them. The technically challenged can simply download Jumpshot from the web, while the volunteer tech support can merely plug in a USB stick (modeled after one of three of the Jumpshot cartoon characters) and get the process going without having to dedicate too much thought to it.
On their Kickstarter page, the Jumpshot team said they utilized a “highly scientific ℠Grandma Test´” as their “Barometer of success.”
So, I asked Dave if any Grandmothers were injured in the making of Jumpshot. “We've introduced Jumpshot to grandma's, grandpa's, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, mom's, dad's, students, teachers, and basically anyone from high levels of tech savvy-ness to none,” replied Endler.
Safe to say, all Grandmas were treated as they should be.
“Tech people tend to love the user interface and the characters. Non tech savvy people love the approachability of it all and that also this is a tool that empowers them to help themselves rather than bother their 'family CTO.´ “
The entire Jumpshot procedure only consists of 5 steps: First, Jumpshot needs to be downloaded and launched. Then, the software “sedates” the Windows machine, or runs while the computer is in sleep mode. Then, Jumpshot begins to run multiple scenarios through different operating environments. While this happens, users can continue to browse the web privately without disturbing the process. Then, each element of the software goes to work, cleaning, modifying and tweaking different elements of the machine. The user then reboots the machine and is given an easy-to-understand status report about what improvements were made and what kind of processes were run on their computer.
Since Jumpshot´s brain lives in the cloud, it´s able to “crowd source” (or is that cloud source?) each of these processes.
“Because Jumpshot´s intelligence is in the cloud, every user gets the benefit of real-time crowd driven results fueled by other users,” said Dave Endler.
“The local engine is in constant communication with our cloud infrastructure that we've built on top of Amazon Web Services. The brain is responsible for all our knowledge processing, number crunching and other heavy lifting. We're able to spot security trends quickly and make instant decisions on a fast spreading virus.”
In the end, Jumpshot is not only able to utilize an elegant interface and a dead simple method of improving the PCs of the world, it acts as a sort of liaison between the tech set and the common man, the tech savvy and the tech averse.
“The power of the masses also lets us ensure that any changes we make have positive impact of the majority of our user base,” writes Endler.
“The biggest differentiators that Jumpshot has over other security/optimization products are:
1.) A strong focus on user experience. Effortless to use, conversational feedback
2.) A fun social game based on earning Karma.
3.) Crowd driven. Jumpshot gets smarter every time someone uses it.”
The Jumpshot team is fighting the good fight. They´re doing good work, bringing two worlds separated by a seemingly endless crevasse together to fight back against viruses, identity theft, and frustratingly slow PCs.
With their Kickstarter campaign now successfully funded, the team plans to keep their Web site updated with more details and versions of the software as it becomes available. For now, those who are dumbfounded by their machines and those who are responsible for keeping their entire families tech-lives thriving should keep their eyes peeled to Jumpshot.com for more information.