7 Great Cloud Apps for Businesses and Teams

I recently started a part time, fully online/remote degree in Digital Design & Technology after working in a similar field, unqualified, for nearly 15 years. I thought I knew it all and knew the best tools of the trade. I was wrong.

The fact that my course is 100% online forced the usage of the apps/websites I’m about to detail but I’ll be using these for my own business, collaborative and personal use from here on in. All of the following apps are cloud based and available from any device with internet access. All (Except Coggle) have native app versions for mobile devices too which give a streamlined, better user interface if you’re not at your main desktop or laptop.

You may notice a slight Google bias here! Most are free for personal/lite usage.

1 Gmail

Gmail

Nothing new or groundbreaking here of course but you can’t beat gmail for reliable, cloud based email communication. Filtering, Labels & Folders and email search are dead handy as is syncing between different device versions.

Standout Feature: Multiple accounts.

https://www.google.com/gmail/

2 Google Drive

Google Drive

A file repository and storage system but with document sharing, commenting and integration with Google Docs, Sheets etc.. I love the live editing mode where you can actually see other people typing/editing on screen and commenting within documents is handy too.

Standout Feature: File & Folder access/sharing.

https://www.google.com/drive/

3 Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts

Excellent call conferencing and instant messaging system with good integration with Google Calendar, ie – click the link in a calendar event to join a call.

Standout Feature: Screen sharing to a group.

https://hangouts.google.com/

4 Google Calendar

Google Calendar

Event/task reminder system with event invites and reminder notifications. I can’t live without this in my life. I might forget to breathe without it. Automatic email notifications of event changes to event attendees is handy.

Standout Feature: Add other people to events/Indicate attendance.

https://www.google.com/calendar/

5 Google Apps (Docs, Sheets & Slides)

Google Apps

A cloud based alternative to the Microsoft Office suite of office apps. Apps are slightly less functional than the Microsoft versions but all are very capable still. I love that documents are automatically backed up and available across devices.

Standout Feature: Live simultaneous document editing by multiple people.

https://gsuite.google.com/

6 Coggle

Coggle

Simple collaborative mind mapping and idea generation tool. Initiate an idea in the centre and drag “idea” branches and sub branches out from it. Notifications of changes to branches are emailed to members automatically.

Standout Feature: Mind map exporting.

https://coggle.it/

7 Trello

Trello

I’ve saved the best until last. My OCD loves this one! Trello is a collaborative project management tool with “Cards” for each task and To Do, Doing and Done columns. It’s great for an Agile/Scrum environment as task cards can have deadlines etc.. You can organise everything from a major project to your whole life with Trello.

Standout Feature: Board notifications and integration with Google calendar.

https://trello.com/

What’s the Cost of Owning a Car?

We’ve been buying and selling cars a lot (no choice!) the last few years and have mostly had bad luck with what we’ve bought. All we ever seem to be able to afford are bangers that cause us endless headache and costs. But if nothing else, it’s led me to do a lot of research on how much a car can actually cost day to day. We’ve just invested in a newish car for once and I decided to make a spreadsheet that would calculate the difference in running costs between the old one and this new one just to see if we were going to save any money and if so how much exactly. It’s early days because we havn’t had the new car long but it turns out that the new car might potentially save us around €100 per week!

I’ve decided to modify my spreadsheet slightly for public consumption so you can input your own figures for things like Miles Per Gallon (MPG), Tax, CO2, Servicing/Repair and Insurance and see just how much exactly your car is costing you per year, per month and per week. Hopefully it might help you decide if it’s best to keep your car or invest in a cheaper to run one like it has for us.

Here are some resources you may need to use to get information on your car:

Irish Motor Tax Rates (Private Car Standard Engine size pre 2008 or Private Car CO2 Emissions post 2008) – Motortax.ie

SEAI CO2 Emissions band – Seai.ie

Car Specification & Reviews – Parkers.co.uk

Car Reliability Reviews – Honestjohn.co.uk

Here’s the spreadsheet (.XLSX)

A Short Interview with Gilles Yepremian, Friend of Jim Morrison

About Gilles:

gillesyeGilles Yepremian is known primarily as the man who met and rescued a drunken Jim Morrison in the Paris night club Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus in May 1971, just a couple of months before his death and also the man, along with Alain Ronay who took some of the famous last known photos of Jim Morrison before his death.

Gilles has been a friend of mine on Facebook since he very kindly and unexpectedly purchased a copy of some Doors songs I covered and recorded years ago and agreed to this short interview and to allow me to restore and colour one of his famous photos of Jim (below).

Jim Morrison in Colour

About Me:

I am a Web Designer and Photoshop expert who is also a massive Doors fan. I used to be in a Doors tribute band called “The End” from about 1998 to 2001 and have bought the albums, the T-shirts, read the books, visited the grave and even got a Jim Morrison tattoo!

Questions

Leon: What are you up to these days and are you still collecting Doors recordings?

Gilles: Yes I still collect Doors bootlegs, books, magazines etc..

Leon: How big is your collection at this stage and what are some of the best and worst/weirdest recordings you own?

Gilles: I have thousands of CD’s, LP’s etc.. It’s difficult to say which are the best and worst, I like them all!

Leon: What kind of music do you listen to these days?

Gilles: Mostly Classic Rock (1965/1975).

Leon: Were you a big fan of the Doors before meeting Jim Morrison, were they big in Europe at the time?

Gilles: The first time I heard “Light My Fire” in 1967 my brain exploded!  The Doors were not so big in France at that time.

Leon: What were your first impressions of Jim, aside from seeing him drunk!?

Gilles: Jim was a nice guy, not at all like a Rock Star. Very simple.

Leon: Did he discuss music or the Doors much?

Gilles: No, he was paranoid of The Doors. It was impossible to discuss that with him.

Leon: What were your final impressions having met him a few times. Was he as charismatic as people said?

Gilles: He was very intelligent and nice.

Leon: Did he appear to be a troubled soul?

Gilles: Yes.

Leon: How did you feel when he died?

Gilles: I was not in Paris at the time. I read it in the newspaper one week later. It was a very bad surprise to me.

Leon: What did you think of Pamela Courson?

Gilles: Pamela was a very shy girl.

Leon: What did you think of Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors?

Gilles: The film was good for The Doors publicity, but it was a “Hollywood” film. However, a new generation of fans knows of The Doors now because of the film.

Leon: Which book on the Doors do you think is the best you’ve read?

Gilles: “Behind Closed Doors” by Jerry Hopkins.

Leon: Do you keep in touch with another friend of Jim’s from Paris, Herve Muller still?

Gilles: No, Hervé is sick and sees nobody.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Gilles.

Leon

New Stripe V’s PayPal Pricing Calculators for Ireland Euros

Stripe have just (Jan 2016) lowered their standard fees and it’s caused me to go re look their pricing structure compared to my old favourite PayPal! I’d just like to clarify a few things here for people and list some sample amounts and fees as well as provide a downloadable example Microsoft Excel formula/spreadsheet.

STRIPE

The Stripe pricing structure for Ireland (Euros) per transaction is as follows:

*1.4% + 25 cents + VAT @23%

There are no other fees at all, ie – setup, monthly, validation, refund, failed transactions, etc.. Custom/personalised pricing structures are available for high volume clients.

Here’s some sample amounts (Price paid – Money in Bank – Stripe Fee):

  • €1 – €0.68 – 32c
  • €10 – €9.52 – 48c
  • €50 – €48.83 – €1.17
  • €100 – €97.97 – €2.03
  • €250 – €245.39 – €4.61
  • €500 – €491.08 – €8.92
  • €750 – €736.78 – €13.22
  • €1,000 – €982.47 – €17.53
  • €10,000 – €9,827.49 – €172.51

It takes 7 – 9 days for the money to appear in your bank after the transaction and the process is automated.

PAYPAL

The PayPal pricing structure for Ireland (Euros) at the ‘Standard Rate’ per transaction is as follows:

*3.4% + 35 cents (Note that PayPal don’t charge VAT unless you tell it to or are VAT registered.)

Like Stripe, there are no other setup, monthly fees etc.. Fees are lower the more monthly income you have. The first threshold is €2,500.

Some sample amounts (Price paid – Money in Bank – PayPal Fee):

  • €1 – €0.62 – 38c
  • €10 – €9.31 – 69c
  • €50 – €47.95 – €2.05
  • €100 – €96.25 – €3.75
  • €250 – €241.15 – €8.85
  • €500 – €482.65 – €17.35
  • €750 – €724.15 – €25.85
  • €1,000 – €965.65 – €34.35
  • €10,000 – €9,659.65 – €340.35

You have to manually transfer money from your PayPal account to your bank but it takes about 1 – 2 days currently for the money to arrive (Bank of Ireland).

Conclusion

Even allowing for PayPal’s no VAT, Stripe is significantly cheaper to use for the average/standard Irish/European user, especially for larger single transaction totals however PayPal is a bigger, more well known brand (for now!) and lots of people have accounts so maybe the best thing to do is give clients the option of how to pay you?

Here’s my Excel spreadsheet I took the above figures from if you want to download it and plug in your own payment amounts. The formulas are all there:

Download Sample Spreadsheet here (.XLS)

*Fees based on standard, low volume transactions. Fee structure may vary.

Leon