The internet is increasingly more efficient and useful day by day for businesses to accomplish various transactions beyond simple ecommerce. This is especially true for small businesses such as Tincknell & Tincknell. We maintain a geographically diverse network of wine industry professionals all utilizing the power of the internet to maintain contact, communicate, share files, and collaborate. (Please note that many of the free programs listed welcome "donations" for support.)
- Mozilla Firefox (free; www.mozilla.org) - The most configurable web browser available. Highly recommended plug-ins include Sage RSS Reader, Forecastfox, FireFTP, Yoono, Firebug, ColorZilla, Pixlr Grabber, and the Web Developer toolbar. Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Mozilla Thunderbird (free; www.mozilla.org) - A competent competitor to Microsoft's Outlook with the Lightning calendar plug-in installed. Can sync with Google Calendar (via a plug-in) and webmail accounts. It is also an RSS reader. Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Skype (free; www.skype.com) - the leading internet calling, video, IM, and conferencing service. Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Comodo EasyVPN (free; www.comodo.com) - Comodo makes remarkable free programs, like their internet security suite. EasyVPN is what its name says it is - an easy way to set up a VPN (virtual private network) that provides secure access to PCs on the VPN over the internet. Windows and Mac.
Graphics, Creative, & Office
- GIMP (free; www.gimp.org) - GIMP is the acronym of the GNU Image Manipulation Program, one of the oldest open-source projects going.It is a graphics/photo editing program that creates and edits JPEGs, GIFs, BMPs, PNGs, and dozens more graphic files. Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Inkscape (free; www.inkscape.org) - Inkscape is the open-source project that compares to Adobe's Illustrator. Still working towards a version 1.0, it does have some glitches here and there, but creates standards-compliant vector graphics in the SVG file format. It also has a learning curve, but there isn't another vector graphics creation program out there for free. Windows and Linux.
- LibreOffice - (free; www.libreoffice.org) - LibreOffice is an open-source office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation slideshow program, drawing program, math program, and database program. It can open and save Microsoft Office documents accurately, and has most of the features that most Office users actually use. Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Scribus (free; www.scribus.net) - A free, open-source, desktop publishing layout program that mirrors Microsoft's Publisher or Adobe's Pagemaker - without the proprietary file formats. Windows and Linux.
- PDF-XChange Viewer (free; www.tracker-software.com) - Of the free competitor PDF viewers out there, PDF-XChange Viewer is fairly lightweight but remarkably complete. They have a paid version plus PDF management tools as well (like Adobe Acrobat). Windows.
- BlueGriffon (free; bluegriffon.org) - BlueGriffon is a WYSIWYG web authoring program like Adobe's Dreamweaver or Microsoft's Expression Web ... but not quite as sophisticated yet. It has a rudimentary site manager, does publish via FTP to remote servers, has impressive support for CSS, and will adhere to DTD document declarations. Another open-source project, based on the Mozilla Composer/Linspire Nvu programs.
- Amaya (free; www.w3.org/Amaya/Overview.html) - An open-source web page authoring program sponsored by the W3C organization responsible for all web standards. It doesn't have a site manager, but does have FTP built in. Handles CSS and is very strict in adhering to DTD document declarations, including correcting code on saving. However, it supports several OSes, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- FileZilla (free; filezilla-project.org) - An open source FTP client that is the equal of any other program, whether or not they cost something.
- WordPress (free; www.wordpress.org) - WordPress is an open-source, fully functional blogging system that is relatively easy to install, though knowledge of CSS is needed to customize it. It utilizes PHP and MySQL though knowledge of such is not needed for simple installations. Pre-made themes are available from other developers as well. T&T's blog is powered by WordPress.
Cloud & Online Services
- Toodledo (free; www.toodledo.com) - A to-do list with a nice balance of simplicity and functionality, allowing for adding to-dos into folders, linking notes to to-dos, and more.
- Toggl (free & paid; www.toggl.com) - A cloud-based time-tracking system for workers and teams, with smartphone apps available for mobility.
- VerticalResponse - (per email rates, based on total number purchased; www.verticalresponse.com) - There are times when we prefer to send an email campaign from our office using a dedicated email marketing program, and there are times when an application service provider such as VerticalResponse is the better method. For the novice, though, VerticalResponse is a hands-down winner; many templates to choose from, the ability to create freeform layouts, mailing list management, and reporting are all top-notch, and very reasonably priced.
- MailChimp - (free for small mailing lists; www.mailchimp.com) - Another email marketing tool that has a very modern interface, great list management tools, great campaign reporting, and a very easy design interface.
- MavSocial - (free for basic social network management tools; www.mavsocial.com) - In this day and age when managing your online presence includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, etc., MavSocial makes it a bit easier. No where near as powerful or complete as other services like HootSuite, it helps with the simple basics of the aforementioned networks in an easy-to-use interface.
- Dropbox (free for 2 GB; www.dropbox.com) - Dropbox syncs files between PCs and the web. This is the easiest way to have files on hand wherever you need them - especially if you use a desktop PC and a laptop PC - and is cross-platform as well. Once you start using it the service becomes indispensible. We even sync a database across PCs and smartphones!
- Google Calendar (free; calendar.google.com) - There are a lot of online calendars, some better than Google's, but none with as many syncing options to multiple platforms, such as Thunderbird + Lightning (above), Android phones, and webOS.
- Google Drive (free for 5 GB; drive.google.com) - Dropbox-like file storage and sync services paired with online office productivity applications (word processing, spreadsheet, presentation) ... the cloud OS and office suite of the future.
- Google Earth (free; earth.google.com) - If you haven't downloaded and run Google's Earth, prepared to be blown away. This fascinating application calls up a globe you can spin, zoom in on (sometimes to incredible detail), and mark with your or others' points of interest or geological features. Useful? Somewhat. Educational? You bet.
Utilities & Operating Systems
- 7-Zip (free; www.7-zip.org ) - 7-Zip is a file compression utility that creates ZIP files or other compression formats (such as their own 7z, plus GZIP, BZIP2, and TAR) and opens many others.
- KeePass (free; keepass.info) - Excellent program for storing passwords and other sensitive data on your PC. Cross-platform, open-source, secure, and easy to use.
- LinuxMint (free; www.linuxmint.com) - Ready for the plunge and leave WinMac behind? LinuxMint is a distribution of the Linux operating system that has made huge strides in making Linux usable for non-Linux persons. It has several "distributions" for every kind of PC, and one runs on very modest hardware (XFCE). It installs with many of the above-noted programs that have support for Linux, creating a truly viable open-source, free competitor for your computer's desktop. Miss the Start button in Windows 8? LinuxMint's desktop will seem very familiar to most Windows users.
- Lubuntu (free; lubuntu.net) - Another Linux OS distribution, more closely aligned with the high-profile Ubuntu by Canonical, but uses the LXDE desktop environment for an even more light-weight installation that runs well on older and less powerful PCs. Ditto on converting over from Windows - it has a real desktop for keyboard and mouse.