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7/12/2012
04:42 PM
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Startup 'Jumpshot' Aims To Help Grandma And Her IT Geek Grandkid

Ex-HP TippingPoint security pros create an automated, animated tool targeting consumers and small businesses -- and giving geeks a little rest after-hours

Two former HP TippingPoint security researchers have started a new venture for automating PC virus clean-up, maintenance, and troubleshooting, complete with animation and a sense of humor. The idea came out of their own experiences as resident geeks helping family and friends fix their PC problems.

David Endler and Pedram Amini's new company, Jumpshot, came out of stealth yesterday with a preview of its flagship offering via the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Like other IT and security pros, Endler and Amini had spent their share of time helping relatives and friends deal with PC problems. "Our families were having issues with their computers, and we were frustrated with all of the tools out there. There was nothing we could give them and feel good about leaving with them," Endler says.

"We wanted to find something to leave behind that didn't affect the quality of our holiday gifts" we would receive for our efforts, he says.

So the pair created the Jumpshot application (view an animated video on it here) that works in the background to uninstall prepackaged junk software that comes with PCs -- removing viruses, optimizing slow performance of the machine, and offering feedback on the overall health of the computer's hardware and network connectivity. Jumpshot includes a social gaming feature, where the user earns Karma.

"We really loved the idea of going after this problem. It's not a new problem: It has been around a long time," Endler says, but with no real solution for Grandma and the everyman user.

Jumpshot is a Windows application running in a custom Linux environment. It uses a cloud-based infrastructure hosted on Amazon Web Services for all of the heavy processing and crowdsourcing of threat data.

The fun part comes in with Jumpshot's animated captain and chief, Officer Pete, who fights Grime, an animated monster/blob representing adware, spyware, malware, and bloated service. There are several "minions" in Officer Pete's corps who focus on different areas of the PC and, according to Jumpshot, get smarter after each operation on the PC.

For now, Jumpshot is free to its supporters on Kickstarter, where the company is soliciting donations to further its development, which includes animated USB sticks of the Jumpshot carriers, containing the application.

Endler says the app differs from existing PC maintenance tools because it brings together the multiple PC utilities and is easy to use. "We're basically four or five tools in one. We wanted to take all the individual free and not-so-free utilities people have to scrounge for when they are fixing their friends' and families' computers, and combine them into one usable tool," he says. "We wanted to be able to give it to our Grammy and not have to have her call us."

Jumpshot is initially available to its supporters on Kickstarter, and the company is mulling whether to continue offering it for free when it becomes publicly available. They're also considering developing an enterprise version, as well.

Also on the horizon: automating software updates; network insight such as who's on the network, optimizing WiFi routers; social networking protection; and a "rate my setup" feature to gauge network speed and hardware optimization.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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