Seven Must Have Free Tech Apps for the Farm
1. Gmail – at the top of my list. Not technically an application as much as it is a web-based service. Gmail threads your email in a conversation format. It takes a little getting used to if you are coming from a Microsoft Outlook or Eudora point of view, but you’ll get used to it and not look back. Plus, you can access email from anywhere you have a computer with an internet connection. I will leave you with this final thought on gmail: imagine the power of Google search in your email. Sound great? Well, that’s what you get with gmail.
2. Chrome – a lightweight and surprisingly fast web browser. Can replace Internet Explorer or Firefox. Downside is that Chrome doesn’t support plug-ins well (yet).
3. Google Docs – again, not so much an application as it is a web service. If you activate a Gmail account you will also have access to google docs. Allows you to handle wordprocessing and spreadsheets (as well as presentations) online.
4. Adobe Reader – this application just about comes standard on many computers now, but in case you don’t have it you should take the time to download the reader. Adobe Reader allows you to view pdf documents. Frankly, there are many free applications that will allow you to view pdfs, Adobe Reader is probably the most well known.
5. Skype – this application allows you to send and receive telephone calls over the internet. Skype-to-skype calls are free, in addition, this tool allows for instant messaging. If you have ditched your landline and your cell doesn’t get the best reception in your home farm office, Skype may be for you.
6. Paint.Net – a robust free image editing software. Windows only. The soybean photo in my blog header was edited with Paint.
7. VLC Player – an opensource multimedia player that handles nearly all types of video and audio formats.
Goes without saying:
Virus protection – make sure you are using something, whether freeware or a paid service. This is not an option.
Didn’t make the cut:
OpenOffice – an opensource office suite that allows for wordprocessing, spreadsheets, and more. I recommend starting with Google Docs and if you find you need something more vigorous, then give OpenOffice a try. Several other open source suites also fall under this category.
Google Earth – maybe someday it might be on the list, but right now the image resolution in my area isn’t the best. You may be better off working with your local SWCD or County Engineer for free high resolution aerial imagery for your farm.
Screen Capture – it probably should be on the list, but I haven’t done enough research yet to indicate which direction to go. I can see the usefulness of a farmer doing a quick screen capture of a yield map and email that capture in JPG/PNG format to an agronomist, landlord or uploading to the web.
Entry filed under: farm management, technology. Tags: adobe reader, aerial imagery, chrome, farm technologoy, free apps for the farm, gmail, google docs, google earth, paint.net, screen capture, skype, VLC Player.