Roundup: Cognition's search, Jaxtr, TrustedID, AppleTV, Palm's sale

The latest action:Cognition launches new search engine companyCognition, of Santa Monica, Calif., is yet another company trying to understanding the meaning of words, to offer a better a search engine. But it looks somewhat quirky. It offers a search portal in the areas of health, politics and legal support. We tested it, using the words “knee pain,” but found the results less useful than those provided by Kosmix, Healthline and Medstory.

Its engine has been taught the meaning of 375,000 English words, so that if you use two or more words together, it hopes to make a better stab at what you mean than Google does. Previous efforts have been elusive until now, but new companies, Hakia (already launched) and Powerset (to launch later this year) are also trying. Cognition was founded by computational linguistics PhD, Kathleen Dahlgren. Its separate site, Coghog, was supposed to launch last year, but hasn’t. (More details here.) For now, it appears to want to serve corporate clients, in the area of legal support and healthcare.

Jaxtr announces other investors — The start-up, which offers you a unique URL, which people can click and have a call go through to you without even having your phone number, said it has raised $1.5 million. We reported on the company earlier, but new investors disclose Warren Packard, managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Ken Howery, managing partner at The Founders Fund; investor Ron Conway. Jaxtr wants to raise $10M more. It is offering more features, such as voice and text messages. The albatross around this company’s neck, however, is its limit of free incoming calls to 100 free minutes. Its target group of young women may balk at that. Note that DFJ’s Packard is also a backer of Snapvine, a voice player that has some overlap with Jaxtr.

TrustedID’s co-founder steps down — Speaking of DFJ, another of the venture capital firm’s companies, TrustedID is seeing some changes as it prepares to raise more money. The Redwood City, Calif. start-up offers a service that freezes your credit reports, so that fraudsters can’t open financial accounts under your name, but you have to pay $8 a month. Co-founder Omar Ahmad, former CIO for Napster, has stepped down as president, but retains a board seat. Chief executive Scott Mitic today tell us Ahmad stepped down because “he’s an idea guy,” preferring to work with start-ups in their earliest days. Mitic says the company is growing, but declined to say how many subscribers the company has. Ahmad launched the company, he told us at the time, because his brother-in-law was a victim of ID theft. As reported here (scroll down), the company received $5 million in funding from DFJ a year ago.

Get ready for Apple TV — Some are calling it “the network in disguise,” and it is apparently expected to begin shipping to stores this week

Google introduces Pay-Per-Action — In other words, advertisers can decide to pay a publisher only if a reader of the site does something like fill out a questionnaire. (Details here.)

Palm about to be sold, by this week? — Word of talks continue to leak, suggesting bankers trying to sell the company are trying their best to drum up offers. The maker of the Treo and other devices is likely to be acquired by Nokia, a private equity firm (or firms) or even Motorola, reports Unstrung. Rumored deal deadline: Thursday.