Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Handfull Online Freebies

A few quick things today. First, as this is a blog, I thought I'd pass along a blog management tool that I use that is easy and free - Google Reader. Now, I know other software can manage blog rolls, and safari even has it built in, but call me a sucker for Google. It is easy to set up folders so all of the blogs you read that have similar content can be organized. Very simple, but very helpful. Now when I stumble across a blog I like, I can add it to my feed and never have to remember to check it. I do however, have to remember to check Google Reader.

Another solid product put out by Google is Google Analytics. The stats I received from a previous hosting company were painfully bad. Basically, the only information I could find was how many hits the site had each week. Enter Google Analytics. While it tracks more than I care to know, it presents it in a very clear and easy to access way. My favorite part is the map that shows you where in the world people are viewing your blog from (and where they came from on the web). A great way to track the effectiveness of your online and print marketing. It is very easy to install as well. Just paste some code that Google generates for you at the bottom of each page on your site, and you are good to go.

To complete the Google trifecta, I have to mention Google Docs. As I was playing around on my new iPhone, I discovered that Google Docs now works for Safari. I haven't played enough to know of stability, but it has now become a much more serious contender in the world of word processing (for me anyways). Something Google Docs just added to their corner is a presentation document that works like a watered down PowerPoint. Now, Google docs, for those of you who haven't used them, are by no means a replacement for all the features of Microsoft Office. But that is why I like them. I don't need 95% of what Office does, but I love the things that Google Docs does better - like file sharing. When you create a document, you are able to assign privileges to various people to be able to access and edit it. Google Docs then tells you what has been edited and by whom. It is a fantastic way to collaborate with multiple staff members on specific projects, share schedules and time sheets through their calendar or spreadsheet application, or whatever other creative solution you have for it. Because all it takes is internet to access it, it allows you to access all your information wherever you have the internet.

OK, enough with the Google stuff already. Another nice web tool I was introduced to just this week is called Picnik. I searched around for other options when it comes to online image editors, but I couldn't find anything as nice as Picnik. It is very simple, but is also very effective. It gives you some pretty robust features considering it is a web based application. The kicker for me is that it interfaces perfectly with flickr, Picasa web albums, and Facebook. I love that I can load my gallery from any of these three sites, edit photos for lighting and a few other basic things, and save it to be viewed in those galleries. Fantastic! No more downloading images to the desktop, opening up Photoshop for a simple correction, then uploading it back where it needs to be. Easy and fast.

Finally, another product that was introduced to me this week is called Pixer. This really is one of those applications where you say "where have you been all my life" when you first meet it. Now, this one is a free download, so I guess technically it isn't an "online" freebie, but you'll forgive me once you read how they describe this simple little tool on their website:
Pixer is a little application that helps you to rescale Png, Jpeg, Tiff, Pict, bmp and Photoshop images in batch.
You had me at "rescale Png". Great tool for automating the mundane task of resizing images.

Hopefully some of these nice little tricks are beneficial to you and can be integrated into your work flow. Know any other neat and helpful bits of software? Let me know and I'll be sure to post them.

1 comment:

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