So you are just starting a business or been running it for a while and decided to start some of the tools available to help with your planning, emailing, websites or whatever. But which tools should you try out – simple start with the FREE ones.
When I say FREE I do not mean stolen, unlicensed or dodgy software. Most up and coming software development companies offer a ‘free to use’ version of their product. These are not the full blown product so some major functionality is turned off – they believe Is that if you like their free product and want some extra functionality the incremental cost and effort to change will persuade you to pay a little money for the ‘full product’. There is another type of FREE software called ‘Open Source’ software which is free to use (but not sell on), built by developers that believe that you may use them to customise, enhance, integrate this open source software and therefore pay for their services by the hour / day or project (or send them a donation). This business model has really taken off in the past 5 to 10 years as many developers do not like the monopoly of the big software companies like Microsoft, Oracle, etc. Remember Google is one of the largest global suppliers of ‘open source’ software, so the business model works for everyone!!
So which products do I recommend? There are many to choose from, my recommendations are for your desktop, you may be using them already. I use these software products every day, they work very well and the free version is great. Where I have given a download link, this is to the official download site of the company that owns the software, use other sites at your own peril!!
- Web Browsers – Mozilla Firefox & Google Chrome
If you do not like the chunkiness of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), then you can switch easily an alternative. I use Firefox from Mozilla as it is a superb piece of quality, fast, flexible software for web browser. The latest versions have tabbed browsing, built-in spell checking, and the ability to add a range of plug-ins to extend its functionality. It has versions available for desktops, Android and Apple phones – all compatible all free. Download from here https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/#download-fx
To test some software I also use Google Chrome, a great piece of software (but I prefer Firefox), down load here https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/chrome/browser/?hl=en-GB
- Adobe Reader
Because any one online works with documents you are going to need to open and print PDFs. Adobe Reader is the best way to do that – because Adobe created the PDF standard.
You can a lot more than just PDF’s but just doing this is essential. Download the latest version here http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/
- VLC Media Player
Ok, your laptop or system come with a media player; however the best one I have found is VLC Media Player. It may not look slick- but it can play any video or audio format that you care to throw at it. No need to download extra codecs or add ins.
A small but powerful essential piece of software download, it from here http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.en_GB.html
- Avira 2014
Every computer device MUST be protected as there are some very nasty people out there on the internet. Avira protect your computer with key defences that protect your computer from threats automatically, eliminating harmful viruses and Trojans, blocking sneaky adware, zapping spyware, and even warning you if you visit a website that could infect your system.
Download it from here http://www.avira.com/en/avira-free-antivirus (and if you need additional protection you can buy that when you need to.
Skype really is my choice for making free phones calls (to other Skype user) sending messages to phones, and pay a fraction of the cost for texting or phoning national and international landlines through VOIP (your laptop). It has many platform versions so you can access it from your PC, Mac, phone or tablet – even your SMART TV.
Download and register it from here http://www.skype.com/en/
In future posts I will provide some other free technology tools, OK they may be a little more daunting but worth the effort. These will include email services, data storage, operating systems, and office tools. I bet you cannot wait!