Archive for the ‘FLOO-G Helps You’ Category

For four years, I was spoiled by the easy access to Adobe Creative Suite and Mac computers – two technology favourites in creative professions – that came standard in my university’s labs.

When I left though, it was just me and my old Windows 7 PC, and I still had a music magazine website to manage that was about to switch to WordPress.com.

I had become a publication’s web producer, now working entirely via telecommute, with less-advanced tools at my disposal while managing a more-advanced website.

When the designers that my publisher hired handed the new website over to me, I found myself in a lot of situations where I needed to really improvise on how to best maintain our online content, how to best present it and solve technical problems along the way.

But, through trial and error, I like to think that I made it work and did my part to earn our website a brief slice of international attention in the digital publishing realm for it.

Web production work for publications entail plenty of photo resizing, so I'm on PicMonkey.com a lot, which is pretty amazing for a web browser tool.

Web production work for publications entails plenty of photo resizing, so I’m on PicMonkey.com a lot, which is pretty amazing for a web browser tool. Demo picture courtesy of Horror-Con.

This is why I dig free, open-source software and online browser tools so much: If one can live with using numerous freebies that can only do a few tasks, but do them well enough to get the job done, one can thrive in today’s information economy without spending a dime to work some telecommuting magic.

Some of these I already knew about, but others were found via Googling various tech support forums with keywords in threads relevant to my own technical problem at the time as I worked.

Are you on a budget and in charge of preparing and publishing your website or blog’s digital content? Here are the tools I use to make the music magazine’s site I manage the finished product that you see today.

OpenOffice.org – A free, open-source office suite that reads and writes MS office files. For those of you who are editors, MS Office’s Track Changes feature also has no problem “understanding” OpenOffice.org’s Record Changes option. There are versions for all three big computer platforms – Windows, Mac and Linux.

Dropbox.com – Needs not much introduction, really. You can store a lot of stuff on the cloud before you have to start paying for more space.

FileZilla – A free FTP client for all platforms, if your organization still stores their files that way.

PicMonkey.com – It’s no Photoshop, but it does the job with basic editing and resizing for the web and has a very “playful” interface. There is even a Scale Image option if you have to crop an image to a very specific set of pixel dimensions.

stock.xchng – A royalty-free stock photo website that serves as a free answer to similar ones such as iStockphoto. Of course, you’ll want to be cool and credit the site and its user.

FastStone Image Viewer – This does more than just view pictures, it can do editing too. In the event that you’re given a web-unfriendly image file such as .RAW or .TIFF, you can save it as a .JPEG, .GIF or .PNG. As well, you can edit the amount of pixels per inch for photographers concerned about uploading high-quality, printable images online. Sadly for Mac users, it seems to be for Windows only.

Boxoft Free PDF to JPG Converter – Self-explanatory. Ideal when in a situation where you need to convert a PDF into a JPG image. For Windows.

TextFixer.com – Ever been in a situation where you were tasked with copying and pasting text from a PDF but the lines and paragraph breaks still show up inside your WordPress post? This website can remove those pesky breaks, as well as do other things like alphabetizing and Word Doc to HTML converting.

So I hope this helps. If the same suites, such as Adobe Creative and MS Office, that you’d work with in the office are not in your budget for purchasing for your home computer, these are a few free alternatives that you too can use to help make your next, and best, blog or company post.

After all, we sometimes just have to use what’s given to us and making the best out of those tools is what builds something great.