Following the posts I’ve read by Doug Belshaw and others, I had a think about which software/websites I use on a regular basis. I try to match my software at home and work since it makes me more productive – but I’m sometimes limited by the fact we run clunky old Windows XP on our school laptops.
I know Chrome is quicker but every time I use Chrome I end up moving back to Firefox. I love the extensions/plugins available for Firefox and have a very similar set on both home and work computers.
Firefox extensions I have on both PCs.
||With the emergence of flash-advert malware and the intrusive adverts on some sites (The Register I mean you!) this became a must have.
||Excellent for posting links to Twitter, Gmail, Facebook and Delicious. Replaced a whole host of extensions.
|Smart Toolmarks bar
||Allows me to have a bookmark bar with no text, just FavIcons
||Syncs my bookmarks, history and tabs with work. Still not sure about this one – I’m still evaluating it.
||Sync bookmarks and passwords between my computers. Might replace it with LastPass or remove it all together if Weave works out
||Gives extra screen estate by hiding the menu-bar (pressing ALT brings it back)
|Master Password Timeout
||On my work PC only. My passwords are protected by a Firefox Master password. This extension adds a timeout to that feature so if I leave my laptop unattended it will lock out my passwords.
I tried Dropbox but first I became annoyed when it kept syncing MS Office temporary files (because I work straight out of my drop box). Then I exceeded the amount of space they offered for free – but I only needed around 4-5Gb storage and I’m not paying for 50Gb that I’m not going to use.
I moved to Live Mesh and it works flawlessly. Files are synchronised between my work folders and home and school, and updates happen without any user intervention. Add a net book to that mix and it becomes even more useful (also allowing you to remote control another PC on your ‘Mesh’). You can also access your files from your Live Desktop should you find yourself working on a different PC.
Office 2007 and 2010
The new ribbon interface. You either love it or you hate it. I love it – and now I’m used to using it I couldn’t go back to the old version of Office. I am the only member of staff at my school running Office 2007 (and I use the beta of Office 2010 at home) and I hope to convert my colleagues at some point in the future!
GMail (Google Mail)
Feature rich, spam free and hosted in the cloud, Google Mail is useful because I can access my email from any computer (and also from my phone/iPod etc). For those who don’t like web email it supports POP3, IMAP and SMTP so can be used with a desktop email client if you prefer. Although I tag my emails, the search feature comes in useful for finding those emails where you only remember snippets of information. I use Google Mail as a client for my work based Exchange mail, and prefer the interface to any of the desktop clients I have tried. (The to-do-list whilst basic is pretty handy too)
I started using Google Reader to keep track of blogs and news sites I like. Google Reader pulls in RSS feeds and can then be accessed from anywhere. Interesting articles can be emailed to friends, or shared with other users (and mine are even imported into Facebook!). The addition of Google Buzz added a new layer of functionality to Reader and you now see articles/posts that your friends (who you follow) have shared. Google Reader keeps me up to date with educational and news feeds.
Windows Live Writer
Part of the Live Suite available free of charge from Microsoft. This is a useful piece of software for writing blog posts offline (and publishing them to your website).
Google Calendar (I’ve tried lesson planning again this year using Google calendar. I kept it up for a over half a term but still ended up going back to a paper diary). The SMS reminders are useful for reminding me of appointments when I’m not near my email.
Twitter. I have a PLN (personal learning network) on Twitter but I’m still not convinced that this is a must-have tool. A significant majority of people I follow are broadcasters rather than being interested in a two-way conversation, and most don’t reply to tweets directed straight at them.
What software do you use every day? What software couldn’t you do without?