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A half dozen tools to try

April 9, 2010

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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]

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 I have used Jing to make quick screencasts that show how to do something.

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