Five must have free business apps for any device

Whether you use a smartphone, tablet, PC or all three here are five apps to give your business an immediate productivity boost. All are available for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android:

OneNote: Microsoft’s excellent note-taking app was an overlooked jewel for a decade. Now it is free.

OneNote looks and works like a paper notebook. You can use it to save all kinds of data: text, audio, pictures and video. It’s unstructured, you simply clip items and drop them anywhere on a OneNote page.

Once you’ve saved material you can organise your hoard in pages, sections and notebooks. Best of all you can sync notebooks across your devices, so you can find that essential piece of information on your phone when away from your desk.

Dropbox: There are many ways you can save files in the cloud. Dropbox is simple, reliable and completely independent of hardware or operating system brands. Store a file in Dropbox and it is immediately available wherever you have an internet connection. Many also use it to back up data.

Wunderlist: Dozens of apps aim to replace writing to-do lists on scraps of paper. Wunderlist scores as the best because it stays simple while adding enough extra functions to keep you on your toes. You can prioritise tasks, give yourself timed reminders and set up recurring items.

Pocket: Seen something worth reading online, but don’t have time to finish it now? Send a link to Pocket and read it later. it’s a great way to head off distraction when working I also use it when I see something on my phone, but the print is too small to read. A quick clip to Pocket means I can view it later on a bigger screen.

Skype: Plenty of alternatives products do voice or video calls and provide messaging services. I find Apple’s FaceTime works best when there’s decent connection at both ends. However, nothing works reliably across as many devices and operating systems as Microsoft’s Skype. You can chat, swap files, send txt messages and even call conventional phone lines.

Secret trade agreement threatens NZ tech jobs

Among other things the Financial Services Annex of Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) published this week by Wikileaks includes clauses which mean banks and other finance companies can quickly import overseas IT workers.

That could make life difficult for local contractors.

New Zealand is one of 50 countries involved in secret talks over TISA. If passed the trade agreement will severely limit governments’ ability to regulate and control finance companies. That’s a questionable notion given the role of the finance sector in the global financial crisis.

As Angus Kidman writes in Lifehacker Australia:

Given the choice, workers from cheaper locations are always going to be the first choice.

It’s not clear the proposed agreement will have as much effect in New Zealand as in Australia. That country’s IT sector is trending down.

From what I hear talking to people in the industry, tech skills are in such short supply that an influx of overseas workers is unlikely to upset the jobs market.

If you know otherwise, please get in touch.