Team Hack #5: Free Software on the Web! (1)

There is an abundance of free software (shareware) out on the web. Some of it teams need to operate smoothly. In these hacks, I will try to survey some of it that I have found helpful. There are many blogs that do this well, but I know that there are Pastors and business owners in my circle of friends that may not read them. Nothing in these hacks will be included unless I have tried the software, and deemed it personally useful (a rating that virtually no one acknowledged!). Here it goes!

Last year a student came to Great Commission Bible Institute with no Microsoft Office suite. They went to the store and bought a student edition for about $150 before I realized what they did. Because of that, I will post this one first: The whole suite that works with Word, Excel and many other productivity pieces can be found absolutely free (from Sun Microsystems) at ! This is not a new announcement, and thousands use it everyday. It is easily downloaded from their site and works like anything I have ever purchased from Microsoft. You DON’T NEED to spend money updating to newer versions of MS products every time one office somewhere updates theirs. Your whole team can download this and keep it current at no charge.

We have already written in a previous hack about the use of online based document software available through Google docs. Another excellent piece of software (also free) is their Google Presentation software, that has worked for me seamlessly with my Microsoft Power Point files. There are options to work with a presentation that is located on the web, or that is kept on my own drive. If you are familiar with Power Point, this web based application will be very helpful, and did I mention, FREE. A simple but entertaining presentation of all of this software and the concept can be found at:

Another freebie for this hack is a personal favorite. Recently I have been a part of several conference calls and meetings where a group of individuals have needed to coordinate schedules and “poll” each other on a good time to get together or call. “Doodle” is a free website where I can create the poll, ask my questions, send the link to my list of those involved, and watch responses in near real time.

How can I use this? Let’s say five couples want to go out on Friday night. We need a time and a place, right? I can send them a simple link with time choices and restaurant choices and “poll” them. That’s a simple example, but think of how this can work on team based projects. What day of three is best for us to have the upcoming meeting? Is it better in the morning or afternoon? If you are spread out across the globe and you need a quick straw poll, this is your simplest answer. Go to and check this out! It is effective and fast. Yes, of course it is also FREE!