Posted by Craig Zelizer on Peace and Collaborative Development Network:
As I am often working in different contexts (and countries) and across multiple computers, I wanted to share some of the free software/it services that I have found incredibly useful to help me stay connected, up-to-date and informed. This is not specifically an endorsement of any particular product/company (and I only want to list free services here) but other members might find some of these resources useful in your work and research.
I would also highly recommend a blog site ICT for Peacebuilding http://ict4peace.wordpress.com/ that specifically explores the role of Information and Communication Technology in contributing to peacebuilding.
Here are some top resources (in no particular order). I would encourage others to suggest additional tips (before downloading any resource on your computer, I highly recommend ensuring the download is safe, spyware and virus free and also appropriate for your computer operating system).
1) Twitter - Twitter is a service for individuals and organizations to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages. People write short updates, often called "tweets" of 140 characters or fewer. These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search. The Peace and Collaborative Development Network has a Tweet that you can see/follow at http://twitter.com/pcdnetwork
2) SKYPE - This is a wonderful service that you can download in a few minutes. Skype allows you to call, chat or do conduct a videoconference to any other computer in the world (for free) that also has skype. There are also some features that you can pay for (such as calling from a computer to a phone or setting up voicemail).
3) PLAXO - Plaxo is a program that you can download and use to keep your address book, calender and other items in sync across multiple computers and online. I have this to be incredibly useful when I am traveling and need to find a contact's phone number of e-mail address. The system also has an automatic up-date feature to stay current on your colleagues addresses. They do have some options they charge for, but I only use the free system.
4) FOXMARKS - Is an interesting program that allows you to synchronize your bookmarks across multiple computers and keep them up-to-date.
5) Download.Com - This is a site sponsored by the technology site CNET and a wonderful resource to learn about various programs (anti-virus, firewalls, system tools, educational programs, etc.) The site rates programs and also has user and editorial reviews. Many of the programs here are available for free.
6)OPEN OFFICE OpenOffice.org is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project. Compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute. This is a great alternative to some office programs that cost money.
7) FIREFOX This is an open source Internet Browser (and they have Thunderbird a very useful e-mail program). I have found Firefox to be much more flexible, fast and user friendly than many of the commercially available programs (and they are always doing updates).
8) NING This site is hosted on a Ning Platform. Ning is the only online service where you can create, customize, and share your own Social Network for free in seconds. Thus if you would like to create your own social networks you can do this for free and experiment. Of course please consider creating a sub-group on this site as it will be way to attract more users and share experiences (this feature should be added in the near future and if you're interested please contact me).
9)SPYBOT - This is a very useful and free tool to help keep your computer spyware and adware free.
10) CharityFocus A wonderful community that provides free webdesign tools and in some cases (through an application process) free volunteer webdesign to select nonprofits.
11) NETSQUARED - Our mission is to jumpstart the leading edge of online technological change -- and to help nonprofits use that edge to change the world. Netsquared is a venue for learning skills, sharing experiences and developing expertise.
12) Music and Networking Sites - There are several sites I personally enjoy using that provide access to online streamable music from all over the world. Through using the sites you can learn about many different genres of music and listen to new artists, network with other listeners and much more. These include Grooveshark (I think free in most countries), Pandora (I think it is only accessible to people in the US), and Lastfm (free in select countries).
13) ZOTER0 - is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work--in the web browser itself.
14) GOOGLE Grants - is a unique in-kind donation program awarding free AdWords advertising to select charitable organizations. We support organizations sharing our philosophy of community service to help the world in areas such as science and technology, education, global public health, the environment, youth advocacy, and the arts.
15) Dimdim.com - Free web conferencing that actually works well!
16) Evernote.com - allows users to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes everything accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Evernote can be used to capture ideas, snapshots, voice memos, and webpages. This is a very useful free application for keeping project notes, ideas, tasks synced across multiple computers and can be used on cellphones, computers (Mac and PC), etc.
17) ShareThis - is one of the best tools I have seen to date to provide a fairly comprehensive tool for democratizing sharing across social networks. The best part of share this is that site members or visitors can instantly share any page on the network via their own social networks. I think this is a wonderful tool (and free) to help increase the profile of networks and of course traffic.
18) Zamzar - is an online service that provides (the basic service is free) to help users transform songs, videos, images and documents into different formats.
19) Google Docs - A free service from Google that allows users to create, edit, store and share web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Store documents online and access them from any
20) DropBox - Allows users to sync files online and across computers automatically. Also has a sharing feature. Basic service is free.
There are many other sites out there. What are your top recommendations?