Nifty Clicks: Xobni, SBA, Acrobat Alternative and FixPicture

Andrew Lock

By now you know that I’m always looking for the best productivity tools around, and this week I’ve found another great selection of sites to share with you. Without further ado, let’s have a look.

A Brighter Outlook

A great product with a silly name, Xobni is a piece of software that plugs into Outlook, the e-mail program. But it’s difficult to describe exactly what Xobni is because it does so much.

Basically, once installed, Xobni appears on the right hand side of your Outlook window as a narrow column, sidebar, toolbar – whatever you want to call it. As you use Outlook, it constantly and instantly updates the view to provide helpful information.

For example, when you click to read a new e-mail message, Xobni displays the phone number of the sender if they’re in your address book, or even if they’ve simply included it in a previous email. You’ll also see the full communication history and details like what time of day the person usually sends e-mails, as well as attachments sent or received.

Xobni’s super powerful search is lightning fast, too. See, Microsoft, it can be done. If you use Outlook, this is a must have in my opinion. Try it out, it’s free.

Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration
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Free Help for ‘Small’ Businesses

Few of us would expect much from a government run Web site, but this one is different. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has created a wealth of information – all accessible from this portal style site.

I’ve never liked the term ‘small business’ because it implies that it’s likely to stay that way. But regardless of the name, there’s lots of info and free online courses on how to start your own business, how to obtain grants, financing and accounting, international trade, managing technology and much more. This is a surprisingly useful resource with relatively intuitive and easy navigation.

A Better (and free) Alternative to Adobe Acrobat Reader

The problem with Adobe Acrobat Reader is that it’s a huge, unwieldy, bloated piece of software that takes up a large chunk of memory, and it takes an age to load. It didn’t use to be like that, but each new version seems to cause it to run even slower.

FoxIt Software
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Fortunately, some smart folks at FoxIt Software have come up with a fantastic alternative called FoxIt Reader. It’s a tiny 2.5Mb download and it runs FAST! You can open pdf documents of course, and there are other features that you may or may not be interested in, such as the commenting text tool, automatic scrolling and multi-tabbed browsing capability.

IMPORTANT: Don’t download FoxIt Reader from the main foxitsoftware Web site. You’ll be forced to review some offers before you get to the download link. Instead, get it from, a reliable Web site where you can be sure it’s also been tested as virus free.

Fix a Picture Online

The name gives it away, doesn’t it? You probably own some kind of image-editing software such as Photoshop, Corel Draw etc, but there are times when you’re traveling and away from your computer that it’s useful to have access to a free online application.
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Obviously the functionality of doesn’t compare to the full-featured image editing software apps, but that’s part of the appeal, honestly. It does a few things very well. After you’ve selected the image you want to edit (from your local hard drive or from a Web site URL), you can resize, crop, rotate, make a mirror image or adjust the brightness/contrast etc.

There’s also an ‘effects’ tab with auto presets such as ‘auto levels’, ‘auto contrast’, focus, blur, greyscale, emboss etc. The other nice feature about the site is that there are two ways to access the interface – an html version and a flash version. I found the flash version to be easier to work with (and a lot more attractive), but I guess the html version is probably more compatible with a wider range of browsers. Once you’re done editing, you export the image to your hard drive.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks,a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses “get more done and have more fun.”

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the Forums. Join the discussion today!

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