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Despite having a small office in SoCal that I’ve never actually been to, I’ve primarily run HPC out of my home office for the past 5 years. This requires some creative use of collaborative tools, software, and specialized equipment. Here are some of my most commonly used web tools:
WEB 2.0 Tools
- Zoho tools. I use this with my business partners to share files and documents that we’re collaborating on. You can collaborate in real time without having to bother with the typical annoyances of red pen editing or MS Office track changes options. At various times, we’ve used zoho writer, zoho sheet, zoho projects, and zoho share. [Free / Paid; OS Independent]
- Google Hosted Apps. We primarily use this for our company email but we also use gCal and gTalk.
The hosted email has been invaluable as it allows me to tag emails, archive them instead of deleting them, and use the most powerful search engine in history to find practically anything in your inbox. Also, since we get over 7gb of hosting space for each email account, we can save (or archive) everything it just in case we might ever need it again. 9 times out of 10 you’ll probably never look at those archived emails but when you do it’s a godsend. [Free; OS Independent]
- Foldershare. If you use multiple computers and / or are on the road a lot, foldershare is a great free file synchronizer. It runs on a P2P protocol and is pretty easy to set up. I use this one for large libraries like my documents folder and my itunes library. [Free; OS Independent]
- Dropbox. This is another file synchronizer but I use it for another purpuse. Dropbox is LIGHTENING fast. In fact, it’s file synchronization is almost simultaneous if all computers are connected. As a result, I can have many of the benefits of being on a network without having to fuss with setting up a network. Also, in addition to the file synchronization, all files in the dropbox on your computer are also backed up on the company’s cloud. You get 2gb of free storage. [Free; Mac Only]
- Passpack. This is a great password locker. I’ve checked out quite a few and this one comes out on top for security, usability, and cost (it’s free). I store over 100 passwords in my passpack account and feel totally secure about it. They use 2 ultra-strict passwords to unlock your account and their data encryption is so good I have no problem storing everything from credit card info, ATM pins, and ID info (like driver’s license number and social security for myself and my wife) on there. [Free, OS Independent]
- YouSendit. We have a business account with yousendit and we use it for a variety of purposes. First, our clients send us videos of their practices and meet performances for video analysis by uploading to our dropbox. When there upload is complete, I receive an email and a link to download their file. Second, we use it to send attachments that are too large for emails. This includes video analyses, training videos, or other miscellaneous training media. Finally, we use YouSendit to deliver videos as part of our contract with USATF’s High Performance Plan. This year, we filled 100s of video requests using this service. [Free/Paid; OS Independent]
- Remember the Milk. Between finishing my dissertation, managing 5 websites, running a company, and trying to keep life balanced I have my hands filled. More so than my paltry memory can handle. That’s where RTM comes in. This is a great task manager that allows you to easily manage all your to-do lists. [Free; OS Independent]
- MediaConverter / Zamzar. These are nice free online file converters. This comes in handy when an athlete sends you a file that you either can’t open, you need to compress the file to a more efficient format, or need to convert it in to a file format that a specific peice of software requires.
- Firefox with Read it later, Firebug and Tinyurl creator plugins. Unless you’re on another planet, you know that firefox is the fastest and most secure browser out there (with Safari giving it some competition). What I really like about it is the ability to extend its capabilities with plugins. My 3 favorite plugins are:
- Read it later. I use this both to make quick and easy bookmarks of sites that I’ve stumbled on to but don’t have time to read right then and there. This is especially useful when I find an interesting article or blog entry that I might want to reference in one of my future blogs.
- Firebug. This one is great for web development and really helps in debugging CSS. I’m no CSS wiz so this plugin saves me a ton of time. It also allows you to take a look up the skirts of random websites that you might like to see what they’re doing to acheive their visual effect.
- Tinyurl creator. This is a must have if you use twitter or ever need to send shortened URLS. It really comes in handy when you’re trying to send a link to a site that has an absurdly long URL.
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