Start your own business kit

Yes, I'm still looking for cheap but excellent Christmas presents and I found some other things I can add to that StarOffice 7 present for my sister, the home entrepeneur; in this partly-digital world, this is my way of making something "by hand". So what have I found...

  • Seth Godin's The Bootstrapper's Bible - although Charles Handy (The Elephant and the Flea) and Tom Peters ("Brand Me") have written about career independence, Seth Godin has some unique insights in this book (7 years old, but even more relevant today) which is available for free for the next week or so. Bloggers will love Seth's site too.
  • Firefox and Thunderbird - a new browser (that hates spyware) and a mail client (that cans your spam, faster than you can say wham bang thank you ma'am) - also 100% free from mozilla.org - with these two, her online work will be safer and more productive.
  • Templates - I'm not going to try to find creative templates for her business, but I am going to dig up some business related templates (invoices, promotions, reminders) - and I never realised there were so many out there for free, for example the desktop pub site at about.com has some good pointers for free Word templates; the ones without macros will work perfectly in StarOffice (and to be honest, I'm glad she won't be running VBA macros from documents downloaded from the web).
  • The Computer Arts magazine I mentioned earlier actually has some great free tools to download - for example, the Color Cop eyedropper is a neat tool for picking colours from the desktop and it displays the HTML colour code in real time - great for choosing colours from photos for her graphic art and web-site (she'll be able to use the Flash export from StarOffice to create some nice web presentations, and the PDF export for her brochures)
  • Speaking of HTML, I'll include JTidy for cleaning up any HTML she's written by hand; JTidy is a command-line program written in Java (I'm sure she has a Java runtime installed, but I can include one on the CD just in case); I can write a few lines of code to give JTidy a simple file-open GUI (and maybe make that available here)

And that's it! Next I'll see if I can find some decent pre-school educational software for my brother's family. Ideally I'd like to find Java applets so that I can create a nice HTML page as a "menu" - there seems to be a lot of good free Java-based educational software for teens, but finding good software for younger children really isn't child's play. If you know of any good safe software (especially Java applets), please let me know and I'll post the best ones here.

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