Design your own office with my top PC applications

17 Feb

Robert Rundle, PCG's Head of IT Strategy & Development

In the last year “apps” and mobile internet have taken over the digital conversation claiming to transform the way we will work forever. This is increasingly allowing everyone to work on the move 24/7 by using their mobiles.

I, along with many others often find myself swept along in this by downloading the latest ‘app’.  This has been a positive move for our sector – playing into the hands of contractors. After all, this basically points towards contractor’s needs in developing the flexible workplace.

However, amongst all these positives and advancements, the need for an effective workstation (whether laptop or desktop or whatever) remains unchanged.

I personally believe that in order to support this requirement, good quality, substantive software that delivers results and meets the needs of the user will remain – whatever the platform over the next few years.

This base level kit has been pushed along by ever advancing technology and there are now a huge variety of intuitive applications (not apps!) that allow us to work quickly and effectively.

I have picked out my top core applications that will help any business – they are but one selection amongst hundreds of others that can fulfil the same task – however these are the core few that have caught my eye and I hope they will be useful for you too.

FOR ACTION AND PROJECT PLANNING – milestoneplanner.com

Is a simple-use-tool for web based planning and action tracking.  There are lots of more traditional solutions for keeping track of projects and creating professional-looking plans to share with clients and colleagues but they can be expensive and the learning curve is pretty steep to produce good looking results.

Milestoneplanner works in a web browser and allows multiple people to collaborate on plans at the same time. It is easy to set up multiple plans for various projects and invite team members to join in and be part of the plan. PCG members can get a 25% discount when purchasing licences before the 31 March 2011. www.milestoneplanner.com

FOR REMOTE CONNECTION AND SYNCING – Microsoft Mesh

Windows Live Mesh 2011 helps you access the stuff on your computers from almost anywhere. You can set up Mesh so that it keeps all of your documents, photos, and other files up to date on all your computers.

The other great thing about it is that it comes with 5 GB of cloud space, which can be included in the synchronisation. Although we haven’t tested it yet, Mesh will allow you to connect to your computers remotely, so you can access your home PC from the office. Another nice little feature is the ability to sync your program settings between computers, so your IE favourites will be the same between all of your computers.

www.mesh.com

FOR KEEPING YOUR WORK PRIVATE – AVG

AVG Internet Security provides multiple layers of protection for everything you do online, which means you don’t have to worry about identity theft, viruses, or visiting harmful sites. It comes in a number of different flavours:  minimum protection which includes antivirus is available for free, including regular automatic updates to the virus definition database, so your PC should be as protected as it can be.

Although this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be careful when going to websites and opening emails.

www.avg.com

FOR THE ESSENTIALS OF BUSINESSS – Open Office

OpenOffice.org is an office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. The learning curve is not steep and getting used to it over other software packages is not difficult. It supports the major file formats, but does save original files in an open standard format, but they are easily read by other applications. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose. It’s not as resources intensive as other office applications and works happily on everything from a netbook through to a desktop PC.

www.openoffice.org

WHY PAY TO STAY IN TOUCH – Skype

A now established brand more and more people are on Skype. Use Skype to stay connected to your customers and clients when working from home. You can save money on calls and manage all your business and personal contacts.

Skype offers various flavours on mobile platforms as well, so you can stay connected with it whilst you are out and about or at home in the office. Calls can be made free between users of the software or alternatively charged if you want to make PC to landline calls. Video calls do require reasonable bandwidth to work well, but voice only has worked on all but the slowest of connections.

www.skype.com

SHAKE UP YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY – Gimp

GIMP is a great Image Manipulation Program. Although it is free it is a powerful application for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. Its not quite as rounded and finessed as Photoshop, but does an equal job.

It has a large user base, with loads of help and support across the internet. It has a habit of spreading all of its toolboxes across you screen without being confined to an application window, but once past this odd behaviour it doesn’t take long to get to grips with.

www.gimp.org

AND FINALLY – A FEW HANDY UTILS (utilities)

  • WinDirStat – is a great disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows, its most useful feature is to give you stats on your directory structure, showing where most of your data is, without having to individually look into each folder. Windirstat.info
  • Synergy – lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, as long as each has its own display. Keeps your desk tidy and less cluttered. synergy2.sourceforge.net
  • Ccleaner – is a system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It cleans up unused files from your system and tidies up your registry removing keys that have been left behind from uninstalled software. After running on a PC it seemed to operate a bit faster. www.piriform.com/ccleaner
  • Enhancemyse7en – Brings back some of the advanced controls that power users demand in windows 7. It is a suite of tools that allow you to configure Win7 into perfect condition. It reports on everything from processor temperature to your graphic cards voltage and using the various options available, can help you boost your PCs performance.  www.seriousbit.com/tweak_windows_7/
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4 Responses to “Design your own office with my top PC applications”

  1. binaryman February 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Great article Robert.
    You should add Directory Report to your list.
    http://www.file-utilities.com
    It has many functions in one tool. One of them is that looks just like the MS-Explorer but always shows the folder size. This makes it easy to drill down to problem directories that are using all your space

  2. Jon February 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    No love for cloud apps? I ditched OpenOffice for Google Docs months ago and haven’t looked back.

    • Rob February 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      I am undecided on cloud applications. They do serve a purpose and I use the cloud for various things, but what do you do when not connected?

  3. James March 31, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Thanks for this – very useful.
    I’d also like to propose http://bit.ly/xpenser which I find invaluable for recording business expenses on the move, greatly simplifying month-end admin as a result.

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