I think I've been pretty spoiled in the past when it comes to IT departments. I ran a network at my first job and was the guy with all the toys in the department (aside from my Director at the time, I always bought one for him first).
Moving between different jobs in Marketing and Technology has put me on both sides of the IT door so I know how frustrating it is not to have the tools you need. Though it's more difficult to support, I'm a firm believer that technology should bring progress and efficiency. It can't do that if you're locked down. My good friend Adam Small, who runs a Mobile Marketing company here in Indianapolis, puts it perfect… is your IT department enabling you or disabling you?
I'm back on the Marketing side of the door with my current job and am trying to play by the rules – but it's not easy. I know all the perfect software out there that streamlines my day – and I can't use any of it. I'm even on a PC now rather than my faithful Mac. It's quite an inconvenience.
I'm up for the challenge, though! Rather than grumble (outside my blog), I play by the rules best I can and try to figure out what's out there to help. One of my biggest saviors has been running Firefox. Not only is it a fantastic browser, but the add-ons are really quite incredible:
- FireFTP – is a fantastic FTP application that I can run directly in Firefox. It's free (but please donate – half of all donations go to charity). It's got everything you need for a robust FTP client!
- Twitbin – is a Twitter client that runs right in a Firefox sidebar. It's not as smooth as running your own client, like Twhirl, but it does the trick. I wish they'd put some tabs up on it to make it easier to go from replies to direct messages, etc.
- ColorZilla – Ever need to get the color off of a web page? Great little tool for doing it!
- GreaseMonkey – an amazing add-on that allows you to write and include your own scripts into pages. There are millions of fascinating GreaseMonkey scripts out there that can help you with gmail and a ton of other apps. Check out Greasespot for the latest!
UPDATE: Use CAUTION with Greasemonkey, there are scripts out there which will try to capture login information for financial websites.
- CoolIris – an amazingly fun add-on that turns your PC or Mac into a Media browsing monster!
- Foxclocks – do timezones confuse you? This is a handy little add-on that can provide you with the current times around the globe.
- ScribeFire – there's even a blog editor that you can put right into Firefox that utilizes XML-RPC, a standard throughout most blogging platforms for posting content. I don't use this one, I tend to stick to the ol' editor in WordPress, but it's still great!
Perhaps the best part of this is that you typically don't need Administrator rights to install these add-ons locally, so you can put a lot of outstanding tools at your disposal without bugging your IT guy. Get your IT guys to install Firefox today! Of course, if Firefox starts to crash on you… don't call your IT help desk… start removing some of those add-ons!