Tools you just gotta have in todays world…

22 Aug

I keep getting requests for some of the tools and stuff I use that’s techy so here’s some of them…

  • Q: I need a place to store my documents that I can give to people but is somewhat professional.  Got any ideas?
  • A:   Yup… if you don’t have a ton of cash, but you want storage and to be professional – try Skydrive.  500 Mbs of free secured storage.


(Click on the image for Link)


In addition to being able to set public and private folders, and even folders with special permissions you can also use it to establish links to documents, or embed them into other documents, web pages or blogs (like the one below).

So – for price, features and the fact it’s relatively professional looking – I go with Skydrive.

Now… if I reallllly am going pro … then I use my Officelive account for full Sharepoint and Buisness Application services functionality.  But that’s a pay service (although there are basic accounts that are pretty much free) so it really depends on what you need and what you want to do.

  • Q: I need to get in some serious time with Microsoft technology – but I can’t afford an MSDN Universal subscript to get caught up on all the changes.
  • A:  You don’t need an MSDN Universal for a ton of the technology going on at Microsoft – much of which translates over to other platforms.  A lot of it is free.  (Did he say free?)  Yup.  Sure is…
    • Visual Studio Express Editions – are available for just about every tool they have, and even go beyond that into Web, Game development and so on… all free.  Check it out on one of the links below…

Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition

Productivity that is ideal for first time or casual Windows programming.

Visual C# 2005 Express Edition

A great combination of power and productivity for the Windows developer.

Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition

Horsepower with a finer degree of control than other Express Editions.

Visual J# 2005 Express Edition

Ideal for those with prior Java-language experience or learning the Java language.

SQL Server 2005 Express Edition

A powerful and easy-to-use database to complement each Express Edition.

Visual Web Developer Express Edition

Productivity that is ideal for first time or casual Windows programming.

SQL Server 2005 Express Edition

A powerful and easy-to-use database to complement each Express Edition.


A framework for quickly creating a new generation of more efficient, more interactive and highly-personalized Web experiences.


XNA Game Studio Express

XNA Game Studio Express is based on Visual C# Express Edition and allows you to create games for both Windows PCs and the Xbox 360.

Need more free stuff to learn the changing MS Product line up? Microsoft Office … available for free to try out – and learn…image

But… but…  but … you say, "I need to learn MS PRoject and Project management!!"

Okay – which one do you need to learn?  Because one is a tool and the other is something you do.  If you need to learn Microsoft Project …  you get that here….

Microsoft Office Project Standard and Project Professional 2007 (c) Microsoft

Project 2007

Stay informed by controlling your project work, schedule, and finances, and effectively communicate project data. Get started with the new Project. Download the new release, test it out in your browser, or buy it today.


Now… if you need to learn Project Management… whew… this may take a second or two to explain.

Project Management is about as varied and diverse as Butterflies.  But a good place to start is at one of my favorite places… Project Connections. ( image

Project Connections is – both free and pay.  And the best stuff naturally is for pay.  But at $14.95 a month it’s not like it’s breaking your bank account considering they have templates for practically every PM function and how to actually use them.  It’s well worth your money and I recommend them highly. 

Project Connections will not teach you to be a Project or Program or Product Manager.  That’s not something you can learn online to be honest.  In fact, it’s really not something you can learn – except by doing it.  So – if you’ve never run a project, never lead a project, you really need to start by learning what it means to be a leader. 

If you want to be a leader – here’s a good start…


and yes … that really is a link to the Air War College’s page on leadership.  You want to know how to lead?  There’s no one better than the Military.  The best leadership advice in the world comes from the Military.  Quit rolling your eyes –  it’s a fact – Deal with it.  There is a reason why Six Sigma Project Management techniques are all very similar to Military Operations. 

There is also a reason why almost every good Project Manager has read "The Art of War" and can quote from it.  It’s because at the core of all projects – they stand or fail based on their precision, excellence, and planning.   The people with the most skill in planning – are people for whom failure literally does mean death.  That would be … the Military.  You need to study if you want to do PM work.  Study and learn – and then study some more.  There are no "tools" for leadership I can recommend beyond the templates above, the reading I suggest, and the desire to be loved, despised and ignored all in the same day.  (Yes, I love my job!!)

So start your studies there and learn the basics of Leadership, Planning, and Strategy.  When you move up from there – start in on Machiavelli, then Ghengis Khan, Alexander the Great, Plato, Aristotle, and cap it off with How to Win Friends and Influence People – because that’s the advanced course.

For those who want to really really be good leaders – I recommend Timothy Gallwey’s "The Inner Game of Work." as a post-doctorate course on how to accomplish your job without being an asshole – and feel good about your life as well.  It’s a template for how to be good at your job, managing and coaching yourself, and people.

And Speaking of Templates… remember while you’re at the Microsoft Office Site to look at the new Templates they’ve got there.  They kick butt. 

Now, if you’re looking for something MORE than just MS Project – say you need to do wire frames and visio diagrams you can do this a lot of different ways.  Here’s my suggestion… VISIO… and you can get it off the MS Office site above.

imageBut if you’re interested in doing MindMapping – you have two (IMHO) serious choices… MindManager by MindJet – which is well, pricey but really good.  There’s a demo trial version you can download that I like to think of as the "PM Crack download" – it’s so good you get hooked on it and then you’re forced to buy it.

If I have any criticism of MindManager it’s just that – once you use it you’ll want to use it for everything, and at $399 for a tool that lets you do Mindmappings you can do in Visio – it’s kinda pricey.  LUCKILLY… You don’t have to pay that!!!  You can download the LITE version for $99.


Don’t want to pay $99 for a tool you’re only going to use once or twice a month (no matter how good it is?)  – well there’s the alternative… it’s not bad – in fact, it’s preferred by many in the business and it’s imagecalled "FREEMIND" and as the name implies – it’s Free.

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Posted by on August 22, 2007 in Uncategorized


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