So today was all about research.  What questions to ask, what statistics are important, how to tell if your business idea is even feasable let alone profitable, etc.  Lots of good stuff.  It sounds like the majority of the crazy workload of this course will be the research.  There’s just SO much data needed.  Apparently the average business plan in this course ends up being 40 – 80 pages haha  So what does a tech nerd do when he knows he’s in for a huge task like massive research?  He Googles around and hunts out software to help ease the burden.

I’m now rigged up all futuristic.  I have an online backup via Dropbox, I’ve got time trackers, I’ve got my Twitter linked to my Facebook linked to my blog linked to my Blackberry, I’ve got Google Calendar linked to my Blackberry, I’ve got Evernote to grab stuff off the net…I can be reading an article on my laptop, and when the battery dies just hit a button to save the page to Evernote, open it on my desktop cpu and keep reading, follow some links from it and find a new article I want for reference so I can grab a chunk of text, hit a button, and I know when I get to school tomorrow my laptop will be able to access that text chunk.  I feel like when I first got a cell phone and moved into modern tech from a landline phone.  This interconnected “one-ness” feels like the way things should be done these days, and I have a feeling after a couple weeks of using this setup I won’t be able to go back to a normal one haha

Because I was searching for software for myself, and most of my class is older than me and not necessarily tech savvy, I decided to compile a list of software to E-Mail to everyone to help them get set up.  Right now nobody reads this blog, but hey, if you happen to be reading it you might find a couple progs or services in here that’ll make your workflow more efficient and not empty your wallet:

If you have a PC:
 
Staying Organized:
 
Free, Simple Virtual Office:
http://sites.google.com/site/momentumsample/
 
I set this up tonight as a sample to show how some of the features could be used, if you don’t want to spend any money. You can set up a private site where you can keep information organized (business plans, project descriptions, task lists, etc.). If you have employees, you can give them access to View or Edit the site.
 
It’s really simplistic, but it’s free and easy to use and can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection because it’s all hosted on the Internet. It might hold you over till you invest in some kind of fancy organization program.
 
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Dropbox – Watch the video on the website, it explains the concept great.  Basically this is a magic online storage space that you can access from any computer anywhere.  You’ll end up with a “My Dropbox” folder on your computer, and you’ll want to copy your important files into that directory…when you do that, they go off to the online storage, so if your computer blows up, your files will be safe and sound in your online storage.
 
You DON’T want to lose your Business Plan on the last day of class, so make sure you sign up for this.  You get 2GB of storage which is the same size as the memory sticks we were given, so it should be more than enough…don’t worry about completing the “get an extra 250MB” Getting Started checklist unless you’re feeling adventurous…250MB extra isn’t very much, haha
 
Website: http://www.evernote.com/about/learn_more/
Direct Download for Windows: https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=win
Download for Mobile Phones: https://www.dropbox.com/anywhere
 
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Evernote – This’ll make researching a thousand times easier/faster.  Essentially you create an online account, and download the Direct Download link below so you have the program on your desktop.  Now when you’re surfing the net, you should be able to select big chunks of websites, including images, etc. and right-click the selection and choose “Add to Evernote” and bam, all that info is stored there, along with the URL and other useful details.  And since there’s an online account, you could store stuff there from your home computer, then go onto someone’s laptop in class and log into the online account and access all that info you researched.
 
Website: http://www.evernote.com/about/learn_more/
Direct Download: http://www.evernote.com/about/download/windows.php?file=Win&btn=grey
 
For cell phone versions (iPhone, Blackberry, etc.), check out your phone’s App Store…the version you download on your phone will let you access the same online account you’re using on your computer so it’s all linked up together.
 
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Grindstone 2 – Track the time you spend on projects and tasks, auto-matically create Invoices based on the times, set time limits, keep track of if your estimates match the final results, auto-detect when you’re away from the computer, set reminders to take a break or stop working for the day, etc. all in one clean organized little program.  This is a FANTASTIC time tracking program considering it’s free.
 
Website: http://www.epiforge.com/Grindstone2/
Direct Download: http://www.freewaregenius.com/2010/08/26/grindstone-measure-the-time-you-spend-on-tasks/
 
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Tempation Blocker – This thing is a life-saver for the easily-distracted, haha  You can have it block programs (like your web browser or chat program) for an amount of time you specify.  It helps keep you from popping your browser open to check Facebook or jump on MSN to chat with your friends, etc.  The only downside is you can’t just block specific websites, you have to block your whole browser program.  There’s an emergency password generated incase you suddenly find you seriously need access.
 
Website: http://sourceforge.net/projects/temptblocker/
Direct Download: http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/temptblocker/temptblocker/Temptation%20Blocker%2000.05.00%20Beta/tblockr00.05.00-src.zip
 
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Gmail Calendar – This Calendar can be linked to your phone, so that when you create new reminders online, your phone’s Calendar will automatically grab the info and remind you of the events you’ve scheduled.  You can create multiple Calendars (one for personal use, one for a work-related website on Google Sites, one for school-related tasks, etc.) and view one or more of them at a time.
 
Website: http://calendar.google.com/
Tutorial for Sync to Blackberry: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=82619
Tutorial For iPhone Sync: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=138740&topic=14252
 
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Writing:
 
Open Office – This is all you need. :) It’s almost exactly like Microsoft Office except it’s free instead of a jillion dollars. This package is pretty big to download/install (takes a while), but you can write documents with images in them like MS Word, there’s a Spreadsheet program (called Calc, this could be used for setting goals/task-lists and marking them off at various stages of completion, or keeping track of inventory/costs because you can tell it to perform math on columns of numbers), etc.
 
Website: http://why.openoffice.org/why_great.html
Direct download: http://download.services.openoffice.org/files/stable/3.2.1/OOo_3.2.1_Win_x86_install-wJRE_en-US.exe
 
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Freemind – This is a great brainstorming tool that lets you create mind-maps quickly and easily.  Watch the video linked below to see how it works.  I find this is great for breaking down an overwhelming topic into smaller and smaller pieces until it’s not so scary to fill in the details.  You can export the map as a PDF, a Document, HTML file, etc.
 
Feature/Tutorial Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh1uANlH9L4#t=51s
Direct Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/freemind/files/freemind/0.8.1/FreeMind-Windows-Installer-0.8.1-max.exe/download
 
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ResophNotes – Really simple little program. You can make notes quickly and search through a mass of them for keywords to find old info easily, and it auto-saves constantly so you never have to even remember to save…but that’s about it. I just use it to take notes in class and make simple to-do lists or keep contact info etc.
 
Website: http://www.resoph.com/ResophNotes/Welcome.html
Direct Download: http://www.resoph.com/ResophNotes/Welcome_files/ResophNotes1012.zip
 
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Graphics:
 
Paint.NET – I’ve only just recently grabbed this but it seems to have pretty much all the features Photoshop has and most of the same layout/hotkeys, except it’s free to use. You can draw your own art, or use this for messing with photos. Might be a little confusing at first.
 
Website: http://www.getpaint.net/
Direct Download: http://www.dotpdn.com/files/Paint.NET.3.5.5.Install.zip
 
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The Gimp – This is a Mac paint program that’ll run in Windows. A lot of people swear by it but I personally hate it haha The interface is strange to me because it’s very different from Photoshop, but if you aren’t personally attached to any particular paint program you might dig this one’s interface.
 
Website: http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/
Direct Download: http://downloads.sourceforge.net/gimp-win/gimp-2.6.10-i686-setup-1.exe
 
——————————————————————————-
 
 
If you have a Mac (I don’t have one, so I don’t have as many software links for it):
 
Free, Simple Virtual Office:
http://sites.google.com/site/momentumsample/
 
I set this up tonight as a sample to show how some of the features could be used, if you don’t want to spend any money. You can set up a private site where you can keep information organized (business plans, project descriptions, task lists, etc.). If you have employees, you can give them access to View or Edit the site.
 
It’s really simplistic, but it’s free and easy to use and can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection because it’s all hosted on the Internet. It might hold you over till you invest in some kind of fancy organization program.
  
—–
 
Dropbox – Watch the video on the website, it explains the concept great.  Basically this is a magic online storage space that you can access from any computer anywhere.  You’ll end up with a “My Dropbox” folder on your computer, and you’ll want to copy your important files into that directory…when you do that, they go off to the online storage, so if your computer blows up, your files will be safe and sound in your online storage.
 
You DON’T want to lose your Business Plan on the last day of class, so make sure you sign up for this.  You get 2GB of storage which is the same size as the memory sticks we were given, so it should be more than enough…don’t worry about completing the “get an extra 250MB” Getting Started checklist unless you’re feeling adventurous…250MB extra isn’t very much, haha
 
Website: http://www.evernote.com/about/learn_more/
Direct Download: https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=mac
Download for Mobile Phones: https://www.dropbox.com/anywhere
 
—–
 
Evernote - This’ll make researching a thousand times easier/faster.  Essentially you create an online account, and download the Direct Download link below so you have the program on your desktop.  Now when you’re surfing the net, you should be able to select big chunks of websites, including images, etc. and right-click the selection and choose “Add to Evernote” and bam, all that info is stored there, along with the URL and other useful details.  And since there’s an online account, you could store stuff there from your home computer, then go onto someone’s laptop in class and log into the online account and access all that info you researched.
 
Direct Download: http://www.evernote.com/about/download/mac.php – there’s a video at the bottom of this page showing how to use it on the Mac…click the Download Now butotn at the top to get the actual program.
 
For cell phone versions (iPhone, Blackberry, etc.), check out your phone’s App Store…the version you download on your phone will let you access the same online account you’re using on your computer so it’s all linked up together.
 
—–
 
Freemind – This is a great brainstorming tool that lets you create mind-maps quickly and easily.  Watch the video linked below to see how it works.  I find this is great for breaking down an overwhelming topic into smaller and smaller pieces until it’s not so scary to fill in the details.  You can export the map as a PDF, a Document, HTML file, etc.
 
Feature/Tutorial Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh1uANlH9L4#t=51s
Direct Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/freemind/files/freemind/0.8.1/Mac_OS_X_Freemind-0_8_1.dmg/download
 
—–
 
The Gimp – This is a paint program. A lot of people swear by it. The interface is strange to me because it’s very different from Photoshop on Windows, but if you aren’t personally attached to any particular paint program or if this is how Mac software is usually laid out then you might dig this one’s interface.
 
Website: http://www.gimp.org/screenshots/
Direct Download: ftp://ftp.gimp.org/pub/gimp/v2.6/gimp-2.6.0.tar.bz2
 
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Gmail Calendar – This Calendar can be linked to your phone, so that when you create new reminders online, your phone’s Calendar will automatically grab the info and remind you of the events you’ve scheduled.  You can create multiple Calendars (one for personal use, one for a work-related website on Google Sites, one for school-related tasks, etc.) and view one or more of them at a time.
 
Website: http://calendar.google.com/
Tutorial for Sync to Blackberry: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=82619
Tutorial For iPhone Sync: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=138740&topic=14252
 
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- Yarr