Free Lunch: Free Online Tools to Make your Life Easier
By Kim R on September 27, 2012
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch and, in the world of sandwiches and timeshares, that’s almost always true. However, when it comes to the internet, you can still get a free lunch every once in a while. We use a number of free (or near free) tools to simplify and enhance things in our office.
LogMeIn allows you to remote access and control your computer. While LogMeIn offers a free service, this tool can be downright priceless when you find yourself needing information while away from the office. We have often quelled offsite emergencies by being able to login and send an email, update a website, etc. We use LogMeIn’s free service, but they do offer increased functionality through their Pro Plan.
Wikispaces is probably the easiest of your wiki options. A wiki is like a mini website that you may allow others to edit. It’s especially popular amongst educators who use it as a collaborative tool in their classrooms. Years ago, I had a college professor who loaded course content to the wiki and required students to read and build on that material. Wikispaces actually has some pretty great widgets that let you to embed videos, photos, discussion boards, etc. We do use one of wikis paid plans for $5 a month, but we make use of the free version as well. If you have content you want to allow multiple people to edit or just want to have a low cost, easy website…wikispaces is worth a try.
Owned by the people from LogMeIn, join.me allows you to view or take control of someone else’s computer (with their consent of course). It can also allow you to share your screen or let someone else use your computer remotely. I remember when this was an ability only enjoyed by techies and the people from the IT house at college. Now we can all use it. There is nothing quite as frustrating as someone trying to explain to you what they are seeing on their monitor. Join.me lets you get right in there and take control.
Ok, so this actually an app…and it’s closer to being cheap then it is free, but its still awesome. Sincerely Ink allows you to turn a photo on your phone into a beautiful greeting card. For about id="mce_marker".99, Sincerely Ink then PRINTS and SENDS that greeting card to your recipient…IN THE MAIL. Do you remember the mail? I know…it’s retro. People actually love it, though. Whenever we have an event with sponsors, exhibitors, etc., we take a great photo of them enjoying themselves at the event and use the app to get the card with that picture sent that day! We also love using it to congratulate people on new jobs, promotions, etc.
Ever try to schedule a meeting amongst busy professionals? We all have packed schedules and it can be pretty difficult getting everyone too settled on one time. Doodle makes that much easier…and kind of fun. Doodle e-mails your selected contacts with potential meeting times. They vote on the time that works for them. When everyone has voted, you can see which time works best. It sounds so simple, but it’s actually quite beautiful.
I love Prezi. If you give presentation and are still using PowerPoint…You need to check out Prezi. It’s an online presentation tool that lets you pan and zoom to provide a unique and visually powerful presentation. Check out the free version and if you need enhanced capabilities you may want to consider the pay version. The only real downside to the free version is that all of your presentations are public. Don’t get intimidated when it seems a little more difficult than Power Point, it takes some practice to learn but is well worth it! They even have tutorials to help you get started.