They say of themselves: "Our free online PDF Converter provides a quick and easy way to convert PDF to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, allowing you to create a PDF from literally any file.
Not only is it a completely free file conversion service, it also enables you to avoid the hassle of having to install something on your computer.
Simply select the type of conversion, upload your file, enter your email address, and soon enough, you will receive an email with a link to your converted file. Maximum file size of an uploaded file is 2MB."
The issue of backups is always an important one, but something we so often ignore, right up until the moment has passed and it's too late. I have backed up important material onto discs in the past (both CD and DVD), and I have also got data backed up onto several external hard drives. You should also make sure that one of your backups is off site - the distance that I once saw was something like 'double the wing span of a crashed aircraft on your house' which is rather dramatic, but not a figure that you'll forget.
Obviously the best place to backup to these days is into the Cloud, and after having a look around I've chosen to go with SquirrelSave which claims to be the UK's #1 service. It's a commercial offering, costing around £60 a year, but it's all automated and works entirely in the background, which is exactly what I wanted. I also have an unlimited amount of space, which is just as well, given that I'm backing up rather a lot. (You'll see what I mean when you look at the screenshot below!)
They highlight their keys points thus:
- Automatic - No need to set a schedule or remember to start.
- Instant - Save a file and it is backed-up straight away.
- Unlimited - Unlimited backup for your personal files.
- Historical - Copies kept so you can go "back in time" forever.
- Simple - Simple to install and easy-to-use.
- Secure - Fully encrypted and 100% safe.
- UK based - No data sent overseas.
It's currently working away in the background, and I've not really noticed any degradation in speeds. I'll let you know how it goes. Meantime, here's a screenshot of the interface in action, which gives you a nice idea of what you can do with it.
(And yes, it really does mean 28 days!)
Your Personal Homepage which is to say that it's a home/start page alternative. It's very simple to set up and only takes a few seconds. If you're familiar with Netvibes it looks very like that, with widgets/gadgets and columns where you can drag and drop. There are tabs for different subject areas, and you can add widgets as you need to different pages. Nice and easy to use. I didn't create an account myself, just played with the public stuff, so I'm not sure if you can share pages that you create with other folk, but if you're looking for a nice straightforward start page, this is one to check out.
This is a fun little tool. Type in the countries that you want to compare sizes for (including US states) and you get to see them both (in rather abstract form) with one overlaid on the other, with details on which is bigger. The graphic shows this quicker than I can explain:
is a nice little Twitter analytic tool which offers a wide variety of data. Start by logging in with your Twitter account and it really quickly analyses your stats. You can see how many times you're mentioned, average mentions per day, retweets, how many people you have potentially reached, a profile analysis, tweets by day, hour and so on. The graphs are reasonable, though not especially attractive, and I'd like the opportunity to look and see exactly which tweet got the most mentions on a particular day. However, it's fast, easy to use and effective. Worth a look if you want to try and analyse your twitter account.
MindMup is a free, opensource, online mindmapping canvas, Its aim is to build the most productive mind map system online. When you go to the site you are immediately dumped straight into the designing screen, which can be a little daunting. However, the menu bar is simplicity itself and it's very easy to work with. It's free to use, but free maps are deleted after 6 months, and a subscription costs $25 a year.
mind42.com or as they prefer to call it Mind For Two is a brainstorming package. "Mind42 allows you to manage all your ideas, whether alone, twosome or working together with the whole world. Mind42 runs in your browser, so no installation necessary for the ultimate hassle-free mind mapping experience. Just open your browser and launch the application whenever and wherever needed."
Looks nice enough and there are some good examples of how it can be used on the home page. It is free to use, but adverts can be removed for a small cost.
Lists made easy + social + fun! It's pretty much exactly what it says - it's a list making device with a bookmarklet to make it easy to add to. The social element comes in that people can comment, vote up or down lists and so on. It's a nice enough looking news curation tool, but doesn't come close to things like Pearltrees for example.
If you're unhappy with home/start page tools such as Symbaloo or Netvibes, you might want to give Dash a run out. There's an emphasis on live feeds, you can create private or public pages, and there are a few widgets that you can add.
Want to easily download YouTube videos? There are a number of ways that you can do this, and one of the easiest is to use Keepvid. Simply visit the site and then input the URL of the video that you want. You can then just download it straight away. You do however need to have java installed, but that's the only issue.
Stickynote software lets you create a little wall and then post stuff to it - Padlet is my favourite of these tools, but I thought that I'd take a look at PixiClip because it does promise a lot. You are able to record your voice, doodle, share material, use a webcam and so on. Pretty nifty. Except... I couldn't get it to recognise my webcam or my mic, and it wasn't interested in playing with the image that I uploaded. This might be a really good tool, but in all honesty, I have no idea! :)
'How do you find all the stuff that you do?' is a question that I'm often asked, and one of my responses is that I use news curation tools that find it for me. So I was interested to see a new one on the scene; NOOWIT. What's different with this one is that it's actually web based, rather than an app on a smartphone or tablet, and there aren't many of those around.
So - if you want to try news curation, have a look at Noowit. Unfortunately, that's about as positive as I can get really. In comparision to other excellent tools such as Zite and Flipboard, this one is sadly lacking. It uses the magazine concept of small news blocks like magazine articles that you can click on and go to the whole story, but these are *huge* - you're lucky to get 2 or 3 to a page. This requires much more scrolling than should be necessary (they make a big thing of scrolling left right and up and down - but guys - that's just scrolling, we've had the for a while now), and it's really hard to work out exactly where you are. Some of the images cut over the text, and so I can't see what it is that I'm supposed to be reading.
I found stories being repeated on pages, which was irritating. Unlike Zite for example, which greys out a story when you've read it - very helpful - Noowit doesn't do that. I liked the fact that you could share stories on social media, like or bookmark them, but again, that's not revolutionary, it's just to be expected. There wasn't a like/dislike option as you have with other tools, so how could it learn quickly what interested me and what didn't; if you're going to have a personalised news feed, it's got to be well... personal.
I was slightly disconcerted over the reference to Google Reader, which died over the summer. Admittedly, it gave me an option to import my OPML feed, which is helpful, but most people will have moved on to other tools already, so why the emphasis on GReader, when it should have been on an OPML file? This just makes it look worryingly out of date.
I didn't have the flexibility to choose subject areas of interest to me, which I have with other tools, and I was fairly limited to choice of sources, although admittedly I could pull in my own RSS feeds, but again it's not ideal. I expect a vast array of subject areas, and having two - yes, two - for internet material was a little laughable. It just doesn't cut it.
So in summary, if you don't have a tablet device, and you're interested in news curation tools, give this one a go; it will give you a vague flavour for what people are experiencing on a tablet device. Hopefully Noowit will improve, but until it does, I'm not really interested in it.
Clipartlord.com has a wide variety of graphics, and most of them are in public domain, but they do tell you what is and what isn't, and they're clear on what you're allowed to do. There were a nice collection of book/library images, and there were also some animated gifs as well. Great for children to use.
Gone Google Story Builder This is an interesting little tool - it allows you to create something that looks like a word processed document, with changes and edits, the chance to add some sound in the background, and then save it as a video. I liked the look of it and it's done in usual Google style (which means that it's good, but no idea how long it'll last) but I wasn't able to log into my account to save anything, which was irritating.
However if you want to take a look at it in action, there's a link to a Hall and Oates type example - but have your speakers turned down a bit!
a free business presentation software animated video maker and PowerPoint alternative. This looks like a fun tool, and if you're into the whole animated cartoon effect presentation, this is right up your street.
If Pinterest is blocked in your organisation for some reason or another - especially if you're a school, then you might want to consider eduClipper. 'Clip anything, share everything' is its motto, and so it may well be an appropriate tool - the emphasis is obviously on education, and you can create accounts for teachers and students. I've not done so myself, so this review is based on looking at the front page, but it may be worth exploring - if you do, please leave a comment!
Need to edit a photograph? Then consider using Ribbet at http://www.ribbet.com/ which isn't at all bad. It has lots of really nice features, from basic to advanced, and I was quite impressed with it. It's also only recently launched (uses the same system that Picnik did, before Google bought and canned it) and if you get in there quickly you can get a premium account for free while it's still in beta. Just click Editor and click Upgrade.
SlideTalkis a tool that puts a computerised voice onto slides that you produce. Simply upload a deck to their site, then add in the narration that you want, choosing the voice that appeals to you and then publish it. It works well enough, though I was annoyed to have come to the end of a 20+ deck only to see at the bottom of the screen a message saying that 12 slides was the limit for a freebie. No problem with that, but it would have been helpful to have been told that right at the start!
I wasn't overly impressed with the voices either. You'd have thought that they would at least have ensured that the narrators would have recorded 'SlideTalk' as a word - when it was spoken it came out as 'slIDERtalk' which was odd. There were certain words that were also broken down into syllables such as cons-e-quent=ly which also didn't work very well. However, it's not a bad product, and some of the voices were quite amusing (fancy having the Queen narrate your slides?)
It might be useful in an education environment though. I certainly wouldn't be prepared to pay them money yet - it's still far too jerky as a narration tool, and to be honest, if I was that fussed, I could do it for myself. If you want to see my version - which to be fair it uploaded quickly and easily to YouTube it's here: