It’s been said that only a poor craftsman blames his failings on his tools, but let’s be honest: It’s so much easier to get a job done if you have some decent equipment backing you up. The modern workplace calls for a lot of gadgets, and while you don’t have to spend a whack of money to equip yourself with the best office tech you need to do a satisfactory job on every assignment that’s handed to you.
Everything comes down to practicality. Even a relatively inexpensive purchase that you make today can save you a lot of headaches and heartaches down the line. Think in the long-term, and think about gadgets that will help you out of a jam if your favored hardware decides to take a day off. Here are five of the best office and home office technology tools and gadgets you’ll want to pick up.
Printer/Copier/Scanner – Every office needs a printer, a copier, and a scanner. If you preside over a big office then an industrial-size copier is your only option (plus an established guard 24/7 to make sure nobody Xeroxes their behind). If you have a small and/or home office, though, you’re definitely going to want to look into a three-in-one rig. They’re comparatively inexpensive, and save a lot of space. Unfortunately, three-in-one jobs don’t have a reputation for long-term health. If you’re looking for a printer/copier/scanner combo that won’t let you down, Engadget recently asked its readers to list suggestions.
Smartphone – Of course. Who goes around without their phone these days, right? But smartphones provide a valuable service beyond calling mom: The permanent connection to the 3G network will certainly come in handy if your Wi-Fi connection ever decides to flop and die. Also, tablets and smartphones like the iPhone and Kindle Fire have great applications that can come in handy for any business big or small.
External Hard Drive and/or Thumb Drive – Let’s be honest. One day, your hard drive is going to go kaput, and it’s going to happen at the most inopportune time. External hard drives (and/or a decently-sized thumb drive or memory card) are vital for backing up your most important files and transferring them to a secondary machine. Back up early, and back up often!
PC or Laptop – Needless to say, you need a dependable machine to help you connect to the Internet, finish your work, and let you communicate with your peers and the world in general. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out our PC buying guide.
Ergonomic Mouse Pads and Keyboards – Far too few employers give much thought to the long-term health of their employees’ bones and tendons. Ergonomic keyboards and mouse pads are inexpensive, but can save typists a lot of pain and inflammation down the line.
For more suggestions on vital office gadgets, read:
11 Gadgets You Should Have on Your Office Wishlist at Workawesome
7 Best Office Gadgets at Focus
Small Business Expert
Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.
Running a small business is a fulfilling experience, but it also provides enough expenses and small headaches to last you a lifetime. You have enough troubles to worry about and costs to fret over even without the stress of finding the financial software that’s right for you and your business.
Luckily, the Internet is a portal to financial software options that are easy to use and inexpensive, making them ideal for small business owners that already have enough on their plate. Here are five of the best personal finance apps and accounting software programs that can help you manage your personal and business expenses.
FreshBooks – FreshBooks is a program that specializes in invoicing and billing, though it’s not well-suited to accounting tasks in general. Still, its interface is straightforward, it has international options, and a robust online community means that there’s lots of help on-hand if you should need it. You can try FreshBooks for free for 30 days.
Mint – If you want to track your small business expenses as well as your personal expenses, Mint is a good solution, as it lets you pull all your financial accounts into one easy-to-access spot. You can keep track of your income, your expenses, and even budget for that dream vacation you so richly deserve.
Money 4 – Money 4’s tagline is, “Your sweetest accounting app.” How can you possibly resist such a friendly invitation? In all seriousness, Jumsoft’s “Money” software series has long been a favorite of budget managers everywhere thanks to its ease of use and affordable price. With Money 4, you can plan budgets and loans, handle invoices, and keep an eye on stocks. It’s all yours for under $40 USD, which makes it a pretty sweet deal. (For Mac and iPad)
Xero – Xero is an easy-to-use piece of accounting software that lets you track your bank transactions, your cash flow, and create invoices. You can also integrate your account with add-ons to expand its functionality. You can try out Xero for free to see if it gels with you.
iBank 4 – iBank 4 lets you keep track of all your expenses in one place, track your investments, and sync your financial data with your iPhone or iPad. You can manage loans and debts, and the iBank’s customer service is attentive and always ready to help. (For Mac and iPhone/iPad)
For more suggestions on financial/accounting software that’s ideal for small businesses, visit:
Personal & Small Business Financial Software for My Mac at MarkParrot.com
The Best Personal Finance Software for Windows at About.com
7 Great Financial Apps at AppStorm.net
If you use the Internet in any capacity, then you’ve probably noticed by now that it has a lot of cool stuff. And some of that cool stuff is easily accessible, even though you’re technically supposed to pay money for it. Wow! What’ll they think of next? Of course, you really shouldn’t download stuff without paying for it, because 1) Stealing is wrong, and 2) The sites that let you download said content for free can be kind of skeevy and might do bad things to your computer. There’s good news, though: there are tons of useful programs on the Internet that can be downloaded freely and safely.
Here are five of the best free software downloads that should be on your PC.
Avast! Anti-Virus – Arr. If ye be surfin’ the web, ye need a shipworthy anti-virus. Avast! is one of the most popular free anti-viruses on the Internet, and its fame is well-earned. The program is easy to use, it downloads updates automatically, and even makes surfing the web safer by letting you know about suspicious sites before you even click on them. It’s all yours for zero dollars.
OpenOffice – If your PC doesn’t have a legitimate version of Microsoft Office installed on it, you should definitely consider OpenOffice, an opensource alternative. It’s extremely lightweight, and it can do almost anything that Office can—for free. If you’re familiar with Word, you shouldn’t have a problem making the switch to OpenOffice’s word processor.
Nuke Anything – No, Nuke Anything will not let you download a functional “Big Red Button.” It’s actually a FireFox extension that allows you to be very specific about the text and images you want to print from a webpage. Given how much ink and paper gets wasted even when you want to print a simple text email, Nuke Anything is a must-have for the environmentally-conscious PC owner.
Audacity – Audacity is a simple but extremely useful sound editing program. If you like to record podcasts, or if you just like to mess around with sound files, you’ll get a lot of use out of this little guy.
Gimp – Photoshop is the gold standard for image editors, and a legitimate copy can cost hundreds of dollars. If that’s out your range, consider Gimp. It’s free to download, and many of its functions are on par with Adobe’s series. Whether you need to do some professional editing or a simple resize, Gimp is a good program to have on-hand.
Looking for more great free stuff (who isn’t)? Visit:
112 Best Free Downloads at PCWorld
Nine Sources for Free Downloads at About.com
30 Best Free Mac Programs to Download at TechRadar