Tools that work: Wufoo, Google, LogMeIn

Rafe goes beyond the first date and declares his love for Wufoo, and his complex relationship with Google Spreadsheet.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

It's time for a confession: Although I write about Web 2.0 applications all the time, I use very few of these apps for more than a day or two. In most cases, once I've poked around in a product and written up my thoughts, I don't come back to it.

There are, however, wonderful exceptions, and I want to make it a practice to give a second look at the services that are more than interesting, they're so useful that you can rely on them day-to-day.

Wufoo: Just plain great CNET Networks

First up in this category: WuFoo, the online forms service (previous coverage). I cannot tell you how much trouble this little service has saved me. We use it on Webware for our contact page. Not only has feedback to our editors increased (compared to our previous contact method, a mailto link), but building the form took me all of 10 minutes. I started with the free version of the product but am now paying for it and putting it on my expense report. At $10 a month, several years of Wufoo service will cost CNET a lot less than it would have if we built the form and the data collection system ourselves.

My relationship with Google Spreadsheet: It's complicated CNET Networks

Second: Google's spreadsheet (review; kvetch). I rely on this product even though I loathe its Visicalc-era feature set and occasional "Connectivity lost... reloading" bug. Even so, it does the job. Google Spreadsheet is Webware's air traffic control system: several people here use it simultaneously, to track the services we're covering.

I'm putting Google on notice, though. I am considering changing over to EditGrid (review), which has features Google lacks. I'm also planning on checking out Xcellery, which claims to enable real-time sharing of Excel spreadsheets. Neat trick, that. (I have flirted with SmartSheet [review], but found that it lacks both flexibility and real-time collaboration.)

Since no good deed goes unpunished, I have asked WuFoo CEO Kevin Hale and Google product manager Rajen Sheth to join me on a panel on small business Web services at the upcoming Web 2.0 Expo.

Bonus tool that works: It's not strictly Webware, but I rely on LogMeIn for remote access to my own PCs and to my family's computers when they want me to do tech support for them. Latest update: On March 12, LogMeIn will release a client application that lets you connect to a remote PC without going through a browser. Robert Vamosi reviewed the product. I just got it and have already used it for real--not just to evaluate it--several times. It'll run directly off a USB stick, too, which is very handy.

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