A half dozen tools to try
People seem to like lists, so here’s a list of free tools I haven’t mentioned before – useful tools that you may not have tried yet.
- Podbean – a podcast hosting service for people with minimal technical knowledge. It supports RSS 2.0, Atom, and iTunes. Each recording has a player that can be embedded into a website or blog. Free accounts have limited bandwidth and an upload limit of 100MB. I used Podbean in a course last summer and it worked well. The interface feels like working in a WordPress blog.
- Lulu – a web-based service for publishing, printing, and selling your own book. Authors retain copyrights to their work. Optional services include ISBN assignment, and distribution to retailers – including Apple’s new iBook store. A consortium I belong to is planning to publish a book for free as a PDF through Lulu; people will have the option to order a printed copy for a fee.
- Dropbox – software (Mac/Windows/Linux) that automatically syncs files (2GB for free) across computers – just drag and drop files and folders on the desktop. Share folders with others to instantly see their changes. Access files on the web from a computer or mobile device. The iPhone app can download selected items for offline viewing. I use it to share files between home, office, and project groups. [In January I recommended this tool for students but didn’t say much about it]
- Feedly – an RSS reader with an attractive magazine-like interface. This browser extension imports feeds from Google Reader and other sources, then organizes them into tabs and categories. You can configure multiple views or filter-in relevant content. I have only recently started using it, but it’s much prettier than Google Reader and I like that it suggests things I might want to read.
- Cooliris – a browser plugin that provides interactive slide shows of online images. Compatible with Google Image Search, Flickr, and lots of other sources. Click a small icon in the corner of an image thumbnail to launch the full-screen photo viewer. Besides being a great way to look for images, it’s just a lot of fun to play with — takes your breath away the first time you try it.
- Jing – software (Mac/Windows) that takes a picture or video of your screen and uploads it to the web. 2 GB of storage and 2 GB of bandwidth are free. The elegant interface and minimal feature set are great for basic tasks. You can pay to upgrade to other TechSmith products or add storage and bandwidth at Screencast.com. I have used Jing to make quick screencasts that show how to do something.