A Book of Free or Nearly Free Computer Tools

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on September 12, 2011

in technology, Uncategorized

BOOK REVIEW  If the idea of free computer tools that will make your life easier appeals to you, then you want to read Upgrade to Free, The Best Free & Low Cost Online Tools & Apps by Beth Ziesenis.

In the introduction to Upgrade to Free, Beth shares how she got started seeking, testing and sharing free computer tools in 2007 by asking a group of people to share computer tools that they found made them more efficient and productive. She shared the compiled list with them and began adding tools and sharing her lists with many others fast becoming “Your Nerdy Best Friend.”

“In Lieu of an Intro,” the book starts with a quick “Top 10 (Actually 12) Questions You Should Ask Before Reading” which is both informative and fun to read. The book itself is an annotated list of more than 200 free or low cost tools in 22 categories including efficiency at home and on the road, personal organization tools, picture editing, multimedia, project management and social media. It also has an “A to Z Tools Index” so if you want to see whether a specific tool is covered, you can find it right away. Beth’s annotations are short, witty and to the point. She also includes comments from others who have used or recommended a tool and for some tools she adds what she calls a “Cheap Tip.”

From the reviews I have read and now my own experience, this is a book that gets read from cover to cover and then over again. I have been following Beth since she started out as the “Cheapskate Freelancer” and have used many of the tools she has recommended. Through the years, I have shared her lists with others. This book offers me the opportunity to share my nerdy best friend with you.

You can find Upgrade to Free in the Catholic Web Solutions (CWS) book store by clicking here. You will also find the last two books I reviewed: FutureCast by George Barna and The Church and Social Media by Brandon Vogt. FYI: CWS does get a small commission from Amazon if you order from the bookstore, but not to worry, you still get the full discounted price.

In keeping with today’s topic, I invite you to share any free tool that you find useful. I’ll start with a tool that I found yesterday. It is called QuickMark. First, it is a website where you can create your own QR codes for free. It also has free barcode readers that you can download to iPhones and Adroids, Macs and PCs. You can check it out at QuickMark. If you are not familiar with QR codes, they are the small black and white graphics which when scanned (usually by a cell phone app) can take you to a website or allow you to upload a person’s contact information to your phone immediately. I am starting to see them in magazines, brochures and business cards now. Here is the QR code for Beth’s website:

If you don’t have a barcode reader on your computer, you can just click here instead. .


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth Ziesenis September 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I’m flattered by your kind words, Sr. Susan. Thanks so much for the review. And I’m here for your readers if they need me!


Marc Cardaronella September 14, 2011 at 12:39 am

Thanks for the book tip! I’ll check it out!

Sr.Maureen September 15, 2011 at 8:53 am

Great research Susan. Who would always know this kind of help or book is out there. Thanks for the tip..

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