It’s become common to have computer programs hosted in the “cloud.” My favorite cloud programs are below:
(I use and like gmail, google calendar a google tasks alot, but they are so well-known I left them out)
- Dropbox. I love this program. Any file that is saved in My Dropbox (which is just a folder in the My Documents area) is synched with all other computers. I synch all of my files on 3 computers and my I phone. I can access any of these files from any or all of these, including the I phone, anywhere there is internet access. The dropbox interface is clean and easy to understand. This program is a total winner. It’s free too, up to 3 GB of storage. I pay for the $99 yearly upgrade to store 50 GB.
- Dragon I phone application. I use Nuance’s Dragon voice dictation system on my main computer at work, although not as much as I used to. In December, the company released a free Iphone application that lets you dictate into the I phone and then you can email or text the resulting message. It’s a big time saver and provides a break from the tyranny of typing messages into the I phone. It recognizes speech very well.
- Timedriver. This is my second favorite program. Timedriver lets clients make appointments without playing phone tag forever. I have a link on my website that the client clicks. The client chooses a time and date and then the appointment is put in my Google calendar automatically. The cost of this is $30 per year and it’s worth 10 times that amount.
- Basecamp. This is an extranet program that I have used for three years for active real estate and trust and estate planning matters. It is phenomenal and costs only $49/mo. Clients are notified by email if a new file or email is posted to their private extranet. File sharing and email sharing are made simple with Basecamp.
- Highrise. I used ACT contact manager for years. ACT had a bloated upgrade every year and had too many features for my humble office, so I switched to Highrise about three years ago. It is $24.00 per month and is a basic, utilitarian contact manager for storing notes, email and data about a client, but it works for me.
- Authorize.net. I ‘ve accepted credit cards from clients for years. Last year I got rid of my account with Moneris and my expensive card-swiping machine. I applied for an authorize.net account using powerpay.biz. This is an internet payment gateway that allows me to accept credit cards online. I no longer have a card swiping machine. I can take credit cards on my Iphone, but I generally use Freshbooks, described below, to email an invoice to a client and the client pays by credit card online. Works wonderfully.
- Freshbooks. Freshbooks is a time-tracking and invoicing program. I used Quickbooks for invoicing for years, but once I tried Freshbooks I never went back to Quickbooks (for invoicing that is; I still use it as a basic accounting program). With Freshbooks, you can send invoices by email to the client and the client can either print the invoice and mail a check, or pay by credit card online (you need an authorize.net account for this feature to work). The interface is clean and easy to use. I pay about $20/month and it’s well worth it.
- Evernote. Evernote is a free program that lets you capture clips of websites. This replaced delicious for me and I use it to bookmark sites. There is an easy-to-use Firefox add-on that lets you capture any site in a single click. The best part about it is the Iphone application that remembers all of the sites for easy access anywhere.
- Jungledisk. This is a good file backup site. You pay only for what you upload to the site and it’s worked well for me so far. Once you select the files or folders that you want to backup, the software takes care of it for you every day.