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Posts published in 'Software' category

Get Free Spotify Account without an Invite!

written by Nelly Yusupova
Nelly Yusupova
Topics: Software, Tech Tools, Webgrrls' Finds
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Spotify logoStreaming music service Spotify launched in United States. The award-winning digital music service gives you on-demand access to over 15 million tracks – on your computer, your cell phone, and other devices.

If you want an account, you either need an invite or have to start paying for the service (see Account Options below to see what you get in each plan).

There is a lot of buzz about this service and if you are one of those people who has to try it now, you can get a free account right now with this pretty simple loophole.

Account Options:

  • Free users can sign up to access Spotify’s library, but streaming will be time-limited and ad-supported.
  • Unlimited Streaming ($4.99/month) – gives you unlimited listening with no time limits, ad-free streaming, and the ability to share songs and playlists with friends.
  • Premium ($9.99/month) – adds to the unlimited streaming features with mobile apps and offline listening, and the best sound quality the service has to offer.

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Usability is life and death. Resources for learning more…

written by Nelly Yusupova
Nelly Yusupova
Topics: Design, Software, Technology, Usability
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Web 2.0 brought with it the explosion of rich internet applications that work over the web and allow users to not just read content but interact with applications.  As users use our web applications, and with so many options out there, I believe that the User Interface of your application is the difference between user adoption….and ultimately success and failure. As a web 2.0 company you are now forced to create simple and elegant solutions that create the shortest paths from start to finish for your application tasks.

Whether you are a designer, developer, writer, marketer, you need to understand usability to be able to create experiences that people would enjoy. Being aware of what is going on, also makes it easier for the team to work with a usability professional and move the project along.

Here are some resources where you can learn more about usability

  1. IXDA.orgInteraction Design Association. It is a global network dedicated to the professional practice of Interaction Design. With the help of more than 20,000 members since 2004, the IxDA network provides an online forum for the discussion of interaction design issues and other opportunities and platforms for people who are passionate about interaction design to gather and advance the discipline. Their website has a great list of resources with video talks from past events/conferences.
  2. interaction11Interaction Conference – Every year, IxDA gathers the interaction design community to stretch our minds, sharpen our skills, and inspire each other.  We are very excited to be a media partner for the interaction ’11 conference in February and will be conducting interviews with some of the presenters and writing about some of our favorite sessions.  So stay tuned!
  3. Learn from Other’s Successes  – Find other web applications that people are raving about and learn from them.  Here is a list of great web app interfaces to get you started.
  4. Read books on the subject: 11 Usability, UX, Interface books you should own

Do you have other suggestions?  Please share with us in the comments!

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Become more productive with DropBox

written by Nelly Yusupova
Nelly Yusupova
Topics: Software, Tech Tools, Technology, Webgrrls' Finds
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dropboxAs a woman on the go, I always look for tools that will help me stay more productiveDropBox is my recent discovery.  Dropbox is a multi-platform software (Windows, Mac, and Linux) that syncs your files online and across your computers.  The best thing about it is that it’s has a super simple interface and is very easy to use because everything happens so seamlessly.

Once you install Dropbox on a computer, all you have to do is drop the files you would like to sync & share  into the Dropbox folder and they are automatically updated and uploaded on all of your shared computers .

Here are some ways DropBox makes me more productive:

  • Seamlessly synchronize my files – If I’m editing a file on one computer, as soon as I save it, Dropbox will sync this same file to all of the other computers instantly and automatically…this gives me the freedom to work on any computer and always have the files I need.
  • Collaborate on group projects – Our virtual team can have access to key files regardless of which computer we are on.  We also no longer have to send documents via email attachments to each other and the built in version control will keep a history of all of the modifications to the file so we can see how thes document evolves and undo changes if we make a mistake.

    By default, we keep the last 30 days of undo history for all your files. We also have an unlimited undo option called “Pack-rat”.

  • Instant Access to all the files from anywhere – Using the Dropbox website interface to get access to my files from any computer or mobile device.
  • Automatically backup your files – Every time me or my team put a file in to the Dropbox folder it is automatically backed up to DropBox secure servers and we can be restore at any time.

Watch a demo of DropBox and I look forward to hearing your experiences with it!  Are you already using DropBox?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Mac or PC: Indecision Reigns

written by Pauline Karakat
Pauline Karakat
Topics: Software, Tech Tools, Technology
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Honestly, I don’t know where I stand in the epic Mac or PC battle that rages among users around the world. I am frustrated with my current PC laptop, which I have had for almost five years now. I know that my machine is nearing its untimely end, which hurts because I just set up a wireless network for my home earlier this year. Before that, I was taking my laptop to a local café chain to take advantage of the free connection I received there. Now when I think about it, the service wasn’t free, because I had to buy something in order to stay there and remain connected.

When I got connected at home, the trouble began. I noticed that my Internet connection would get slower and slower, and then these horrendous pop-ups and explicit web sites starting popping up. I knew that viruses had over-run my system, and I quickly took it to get it “cleaned,” for a fee.  Before this, I downloaded free anti-virus software that came highly recommended, but it either did nothing or contributed to my system crashing. I will never download anything like it again—I bought the Norton ™ Internet Security software and have been satisfied ever since.  It may hurt financially at first, but in the long run, it’s worth it.

Now my power cord is frayed and its looking like I am will have to replace it. These occasional but annoying drawbacks make me wonder if paying over $1000 for a MacBook Pro is worth it in the long run. They are lightweight and apparently quite durable, which is good for me because I can be accident prone at times. I don’t know how it happened, but my current Dell laptop has a slightly long yet subtle crack near the keyboard. I also keep hearing that Macs are much more virus-resistant than their PC counterparts, which leaves me wondering if it is worth shelling out all that money up front for the former is a more sensible investment.

I guess I know the answer my questions, but I am not planning to run out and buy a Mac anytime soon. I think I am going to slug it out until next spring or early summer before I decide to purchase a new laptop. I’m off to my local electronics megastore to buy a new power cord for my old PC. This is not the time for big financial splurges, even though I’ve been known to indulge in the past. I am just praying that my machine will keep for another year. In the meantime, I am backing up all my files and praying that the inevitable won’t become a reality anytime soon.  

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Be Open in 2009

written by Jaime Chambron
Jaime Chambron
Topics: Business, Software, Technology
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Be open in 2009…..open source that is.  Or at least as close to open, or free, as one can find.

From productivity tools like Open Office to numerous free wikis on the market, open source software has become more mature and ready for prime time in a year where CIOs will be looking to cut enterprise costs where possible while keeping teams intact and productive.

So where are the options to go from vendor to open?  Here are a few to consider either for yourself or for your department/business:

Open Office

Open Office is Sun’s response to Microsoft Office, just free.  Five basic applications are provided, which are equivalent to Microsoft Word (Writer), Microsoft Excel (Calc), Microsoft Power Point (Impress),  Microsoft Access (Base), and Microsoft Visio (Draw).  While this is close to being an apples to apples comparison, the main productivity feature that lacks, which may cause some companies to shy away from Open Office, is the lack of shared calendaring and other advanced calendaring and spreadsheet features Microsoft offers.


For a small business or independent consultant, Zoho will pretty much provide all the collaboration tools you need for free to manage your business, from CRM, Microsoft Office equivalents, to free web conferencing (sorry no toll free number included, but, just use Skype for free voice over IP long distance!).  The only catch is to not go above 5-10 users to keep the free version.


How are you keeping your teams learning and growing so you can continue to add value and survive the recession we are in?  Moodle, though used in education, can also be used to help manage and track educational process while delivering virtual classes.


Don’t want to buy Quick Books?  GNUCash has been at the top of 2-3 other open source accounting software technologies out on the market for the last few years.  It provides double-entry accounting, invoicing capabilities plus many other features and functions to run anyone’s personal finances on or small business.


Google has become a major player in the hosted tools market, going beyond their search and Gmail capabilities to provide a number of Google Apps to help run one’s business.  It’s not free, but $50/user (versus $1K+ for many desktop alternatives and reduction of needing inhouse IT staff to manage the desktop version of these Software as a Service – SaaS – options)

So what should trigger you to switch or deciding on free versus commercial when kicking off your new independent consultancy this winter?  Common reasons are anywhere from being fed up on paying exhorbatent fees for software that is available for free, usability to having a philosophy that supports open source to how much or how little end user support you want these vendors/communities to provide to you and/or your employees.  The other benefit of most open source software is you can build in your own features if you are technical enough.

For example, an acquaintence switched to Open Office when Microsoft finally nailed the coffin on free Microsoft Office upgrades with Vista.  He could upgrade Microsoft Office for free previously when he upgraded the OS, but not any more.

Remember there are options to continue digital productivity you do not have to pay for!

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