It’s one thing to write, code, paint or create. It’s another thing to pay the bills. I guess thats why many people abandon projects in favour of a steady, nine to five job.

That might all seem a bit dramatic, and maybe it is, but beneath the main economy of white collar workers flows an undercurrent of online enterprise desperate to find its feet. Individuals and groups, creating and sharing.

Sellbox, by way of its simplistic features caters to this underworld yet keeps the style and professionalism of the main market. By enabling users to sell their Dropbox files, they’ve created an ingenious marketplace with no start-up overheads for the creators. But how is it really any different from other online file markets? And, in business terms, is it worth your while? (more…)

When a $400,000 house can be much cheaper than a $350,000 house, you can see how people fall down when it comes to making financial decisions. For the common man not versed in investments, equity and financial projections, what seems like a simple arithmetic task rapidly spirals out of control. If you look at the credit bubble which burst over much of the western world in 2008 you can see how irresponsible lending, irresponsible borrowing and the reliance on the value of a house increasing to secure a family’s future can lead to a catastrophe. What looks like a little bit more ends up being a lot more under many circumstances.

I bet many want to stay as far away from the volatile market right now. But hey, we have to make choices sooner or later. Ultimately, long-term financial decisions all come down to the compound interest you can generate on your wealth and assets. Einstein reportedly called it “the most powerful force in the universe”.

SmartAsset throws normal ‘mortgage calculators’ out the window, casting aside the claim that investment are mere percentage calculations. What about taxes, the increasing equity of the property, related expenses and closing costs?  That all counts too, and SmartAsset will help you calculate the real world consequences of your decisions. (more…)

Until I review CronSync over a year ago, I wasn’t sold on using an application to track work hours and manage invoicing. I was perfectly content with my pre-formatted invoice document which I’d print to PDF. Since then automating the process has taken off among freelancers, home businesses and even larger studios and companies. A quick search on the Freelance Switch forums will reveal lengthy discussions on the topic.

Ballpark, a similar app with more of a focus on billing, has recently given their service a facelift promising to make things much better. The last time Ballpark was discussed on Web AppStorm was 2009. Apart from the blue colour scheme, the app looks almost unrecognizable as the same app, with its fully redesigned interface that sets it apart from the crowd of competitors.

Their new version that just went live this week offers the user increased functionality, easier navigation and an updated feel for the app. My question is whether or not it’s a viable option for a freelancing business. Let’s take a look.
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Pulse always stood out from the crowd – if it was a baby I bet it would have came out feet first. Just to be different. For the past couple of years it has been the primary news app on many of our phones. And unlike others it has never had a website – preferring instead to live on the screens of our mobile devices.

I guess this is why it developed such a good following. That, and its incredible design, functionality and user-friendly nature. Pulse has always been there when you need it. Looking hot and dishing out all the gossip it can find like a chatty girlfriend.

Today the developers have launched what they’re calling ‘Pulse for the Web’. A fully-loaded web version of the mobile application. “It wasn’t long until our users let us know that the problem we solved wasn’t confined to mobile devices”. They’re taking the great user experience we’ve all had on our handsets and blowing it up to desktop size. But does Pulse work on the ‘big screen’?
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Objectiveli: Turning your Objectives and Goals into Reality

No software will ever defuse the cooked hand grenade that is a newly formed project group. Leading a project is like leading a pack of rabid dogs. Motley crews rarely form, norm and perform like the textbooks say the will. In fact projects can often be a forum for non-stop arguing, cut-throat tactics and ridiculous organisational methods. Did I mention trench warfare? They’re also a lot like trench warfare. When your shot they pour salt in the wound and laugh.

In the past, the most well-thought out Gantt charts, plans and strategies have crumbled right before my very eyes. Meetings go unattended to and emails remain unopened.

Objectiveli is a web app for the lucky. Those in awesome, hard working groups with brainstorming sessions, lateral thinking and dedication to realise the goals of the group. After a few minutes use I realise the developers knew a thing or two about how to run a project efficiently and effectively. Caution – May induce serious work.
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Upverter – Design Awesome Scematics

Quite a few years have passed since I sat in a physics class. It was one of my favourite subjects at school but, just like most things we learn in formal education, formulas, symbols, laws and facts tend to slip away.

Upverter certainly gave me the refresher class I needed. It’s an online CAD app (Computer Aided Design) geared towards designing electrical items, or at least the schematics for them. My limited knowledge could only stretch so far in terms of design. In fact I’m sure some of the contraptions I came up with would be fire hazards. But to an electrical engineer or Arduino enthusiast, this could very well be a new tool in the arsenal.

It’s extremely easy to use and best of all, for the home user it’s completely free. But it’s not just a run-of-the-mill schematic spin on MS Paint. It has a few aces hidden up its sleeves.

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Store owners, bloggers and business have a vested interest in their websites being up 100% of the time. When Chrome won’t load a page, it ends in frustration and customer’s money going elsewhere.

ErlyWarn allows users to have their website monitored 24/7. At the first hint of trouble they receive an alert so the website can be attended to. Without such a warning system, sleeping soundly could be costing us all valuable visitors. Lets check this out. (more…)

Market Research with Google Consumer Surveys

The downfall of many new business and products is that the creators loved their idea too much. A quick search for failed tech products will reveal thousands of cool gadgets and gizmos that while awesome, clever and unique, never made enough sales to break even. The inventors loved their pride and joy so much that they assumed the rest of the world would care. But products can be like first-time parents showing off a snotty, crying bundle of burden.

Google has developed Google Consumer Surveys to help anyone decide whether or not to go ahead with an idea. By simply asking their target market “Hey, what do you think of this?”, business and individuals can act on information instead of blind ambition.

The name, however, makes Google Surveys seem like a half baked web app already replicated a hundred times over around the web. Maybe it’s something cooked up on an off-day at the Googleplex in California?

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This time last year, I discovered an unknown web application for time tracking, invoicing and accounting named CronSync. My original review, which can be found here, was a positive one scoring an impressive 9/10.

Unlike some apps however, CronSync hasn’t been lying idle for the past twelve months. The team, based in Germany, has been hard at work upgrading and adding new features. For the past twelve months, I’ve watched CronSync slowly get better and better, and over the last two months several fantastic updates have convinced me that a second review was necessary.

If run a business, hate doing the books and are fed up with Excel, read on.

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Way back in 1989, when the idea of using computers to manage customer relationships was still in its infancy, a guy by the name of John Ferrara founded Goldmine Software which would spend the next decade pioneering CRM software solutions. In 1999 he sold Goldmine to a South African firm. But that wasn’t the end of John. He’s back with Nimble, a CRM web app for today’s world where social media is king.

Nimble promises to integrate a salesperson’s efforts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and a plethora of other avenues one might use today to keep in touch with their customers. Keeping your existing customers happy is increasingly important, since, according to some, it can cost fourteen times as much to get a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. Anything to help you keep in touch with your existing customers and network is a plus, so let’s check Nimble out and see if it really can.

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