I’ve got a few tools that I probably don’t mention enough. These are the things that let me work faster, better and, at least appear, smarter. They’re not the sexy, but less useful stuff, like Twitter, etc. These are the day in day out go to services that you’d be a fool not to use:
- Skype – how the heck did I live without this? Video conference, the internet as your telecom company, with chat. Seriously, why would you pay for phone service. I often have an open line with someone half way around the world for an hour or two at a time as we sort out issues. This is great for family use as well. My aunt is using it to video conference with her daughter in Munich on a daily basis, allowing her to be a part of her grandchildren’s lives even though she’s multiple timezones away in New York.
- Webex – it’s not free, but it’ll save you more than enough to pay for itself in increased employee productivity and in travel savings. NameMedia uses LiveMeeting, which I’m just getting used to, which is somewhat similar, but I’ve got to admit it, I’d make much more use of Webex. The ability to share desktops using their Meeting Center is far superior, allowing you easily hand off control and do just about anything on a coworkers computer is excellent. Pair the basic service with Support Center if you want to be able to work unattended on remote machines for long periods of time, or if you’re doing a lot of remote customer support.
- Carbonite – I don’t have an IT support staff for my home office. I do backup my files to a remote drive, but that’s as often as not still sitting in my home office, hence it’s not a real offsite back up. For $49.95 a year, or less with a multi-year subscription, you can automatically backup everything to Carbonite’s servers and never again worry about accidental deletes, hard drive failures, theft or disaster. (disclaimer: I’m not currently using Carbonite, but it’s going to be added to my services shortly. Right now I do a secondary back up to my work computer.
- Avast Antivirus Home Edition – I use the free version of Avast at home. I really hated McAfee and their never ending quest to separate me from my dollars. It’s excellent when you team it with the next item.
- Ad-Aware – Ad-Aware keeps me protected and removes any nasty spyware, adware crap that I may pick up as I wander the net. It’s one of the first things I install on any machine I sit in front of.
- Gmail – Nothing handles mail like gmail. I’d love to forward my corporate stuff through gmail, but I’d get my hand slapped eventually.
I’ve just started using Flickr, and I can already see it’s probably going to become one of those go to apps that I’ll be using all the time. Similarly, I suspect I’ll be saying the same about the Amazon S3 service, as it gives me a great remote home with ubiquitous accessibility for my files.
So what are the tools you wouldn’t want to work without?