One of my favorite series was Char Polanosky’s Essential Tools posts where she interviewed web developers and freelancers about what they used in their jobs. I figured I’d share what I use with you… I might have forgotten a few things but these are the main software tools I rely on pretty much daily. In no particular order:
Gmail: it took a while to get used to, especially since I couldn’t file one message into a folder, but as I caught on I fell in LOVE. I can access it from anywhere, and searching for old emails is awesome. I use my gmail account as much as I use my JibberJobber account.
Microsoft Outlook: I’m an Outlook guy… always have been. I love some things about Outlook, and I haven’t been able to replace those things anywhere else. By the end of this year I suspect I’ll have my gmail and my Outlook 100% integrated, so I get the best of both. Also, ALL of my calendaring is done on Outlook.
JibberJobber.com: I meet a lot of people and have a lot of conversations. There is NO WAY I could do what I do without having a “customer relationship” tool. Many people know JiberJobber as a job search tool, or a website to replace the job search spreadsheet, but I, as a business owner and CEO, use it to manage my relationships. I login in the morning and it stays open in a browser all day long.
Firefox: As a web developer from 10 years ago I grew to dislike the “browser wars,” since coding something would have to work in multiple versions of multiple browsers. They all sucked, as far as I was concerned. But I was introduced to Firefox (FF) as a browser that was highly superior to Internet Explorer (IE) by a group of uber-geek programmers, and I thought I’d give it a shot. I quickly fell in love with a few things… the most important for me is how fast it is (or, how much faster it is than IE). This is my browser of choice… although I do some testing and other stuff in IE.
Skype: My business phone number is a “skype-in” number… I make all of my business calls from a headset hooked up to my computer through Skype. There have been a few quirks here and there, but overall I’m really pleased with the service. And the ability to chat with other skype people is icing on the cake, since it’s become a backup place to chat to my team members, who all work remotely.
Microsoft Live Messenger: I love what used to be called IM (the tool, which was “Instant Messenger”) and is not Live Messenger. I tried Trillian, which would allow me to put all of my chat accounts in one place, but it didn’t satisfy me. My messenger of choice is Microsoft’s. I LOATHE Yahoo messenger (sorry). But, as mentioned above, if it goes down (not totally uncommon), I can always jump on Skype chat… and increasingly I’m chatting with people on Gmail.
Notepad: This is one of those Microsoft utilities… lightweight and easy to use. It has become my “sticky notes” or “post-it notes” … when I have a thought I’ll open up a new one, jot my notes down, and then when I’m done I’ll close the file without saving. For example, the list of stuff in this post is on a notepad file that I’ll close as soon as I’m done writing it. Another example: when I’m on the phone I’ll take notes in Notepad. When I hang up, I clean up the notes and then copy and paste into a log entry in JibberJobber.
SnagIt: I grab images from the web regularly – whether it’s a screenshot for my development team or a picture of YOU (if I add you to JibberJobber)… it’s super easy to do with TechSmith’s SnagIt… which allows me to put annotations, borders, arrows, highlight, etc. on the image. Any image on my blog will have gone through SnagIt before it gets to my blog. If I don’t have SnagIt I feel lost. I’ve used this tool for at least five years.
Twitter: Love it or not, Twitter does it for me. It’s pretty cool. If Twitter can figure out how to keep the spammers out/down, it would be better. Meanwhile I’m enjoying it, and am able to communicate to a group of people who want to hear from me. You can follow me at Twitter.com/JasonAlba.
LinkedIn: I use this when I see a name of someone I want to learn more about. If we are going to be on a phone call, go to a lunch, or have communicated via email and are taking our professional relationship to the next level, you can bet I’ve gone to your LinkedIn Profile to figure out who you are.
PayPal: I know there are PayPal haters out there, but I’ve not really had a problem with it. There are many people I’ve paid with PayPal, and many people who have paid me through PayPal. I’ve also been able to purchase a number of things using PayPal instead of my credit card, which has made it easier/faster to purchase what I’ve needed.
Honorable mention: Camtasia: Another TechSmith product, this is what I use to do the JibberJobber tutorial recordings. LOVE IT.
I hope this has been helpful … I’m not saying you have to use any of these, but I find many of these indispensable. What do you recommend?