I figure a list will be an easy read for a Monday. For those back in school from New Orleans, good luck catching up on those exams and assignments you missed. I’ve outlined some great software and Internet accounts that can be helpful for projects, preparing your portfolio and networking. As always, feel free to add to my list in the comments section below.
Of course I understand not every college student can afford these leading programs, so I’ve included a link to a site that provides free alternatives. You can find those programs here.
- An external hard drive — Take it from someone who lost tons of files, including bylined article softcopies, designs and Web pages that backing up your files is essential. These drives can be found for as little as $20 (120GB). You may decide to upgrade to a larger drive to store your music and photos, as well.
- USB thumb drives — I kept one for every subject on a keychain. Thumb drives can be purchased for $10 and are great for carrying your files on the go.
- Anti-virus software — To protect your computer from viruses, spyware and other forms of malware, you should include effective anti-virus software. I am not qualified to endorse one over another, but I haven’t had any problems with AVG’s free software.
- Microsoft Office — This is one bundle I would invest in over the alternatives for compatibility sake. The bundle consists of MS Word, Power Point, Excel, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, Outlook and probably a few other programs you’ll never use. Even if you invest in an older version of the bundle, you’ll suffice just fine.
- Adobe bundle — Whether you want to stand out with an electronic portfolio or become a leader in creative design, you can find an Adobe bundle for you. Some programs that might sound familiar include InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Firefox.
- FTP access — If you host an online portfolio or want the rights to yourname.com, FTP is the tool that will put your local files online for public viewing. If you have Mozilla Firefox, you can install FTP under the Tools/Add-ons tab. Search “Fire FTP” once you’re there. The Hippo site has FTP programs, as well.
- Facebook — Like I’m telling you something you don’t already know. Facebook is the leading social media site that connects you to friends, family and colleagues.
- Twitter — Most of you have probably at least considered getting a Twitter account. For those who haven’t seen the light, Twitter gives you personalized live information from the people you find interesting enough to follow. Make it work for you — there is no one way to use Twitter. Check out TweetGrid.com to live search keywords and hashes. That’s how I followed #prassembly, as well as who has been RT’ing my blog.
- LinkedIn — Network with professionals, list your accomplishments, have colleagues give you personal recommendations. Many call LinkedIn the professional version of Facebook.
- Gmail — Offering 7,310MB of memory — all for free — a Gmail account is the way to go when it comes to e-mail. Attempt to secure firstname.lastname@example.org for a professional look. GTalk is an added freebie, which let’s you instant message with your Google and AIM buddies while you check your mail. One of my favorite features of Gmail is that all your messages are Google searchable while you are logged into your account.
- iTunes, Pandora, Imeem and Archive.org — If you’re at all like me, you enjoy listening to music while you work. Pandora is a music player designed to learn your tastes, and Imeem stores thousands of users’ music online like Napster, but you can’t download it locally. Instead, you can create playlists to listen to while you’re logged in. Also, check out archive.org to see if your favorite band has its live performances online. Mine does :)
- Web browser other than Internet Explorer — I suppose you can manage with an IE browser, but it’s not as innovative as Google’s new Chrome browser or Flock’s social media browser.
- CD burning software — Your computer may have come standard with CD burning software, but in case it did not, check out Nero Burning Rom, so you can burn a copy of your big presentation.
- Zip software — Instead of sending your buddy 30 separate files, try zipping up a folder. You’ll save space and time by archiving multiple files into one. I use 7-Zip.
This list is basically the works. I’d love to see if I’m missing a program. You might consider time management software, but I prefer keeping a Palm Pilot for mobility.