Stuff we use and recommend
Why and what is this page?
From a tiny little site in 2004, Chandoo.org grew to be massive resource on all things Excel today. Running this site is an exciting thing. Over the years, I have learned to use certain software, hardware, websites to help me maintain this site and make people awesome in Excel. Now a days, many people ask me, “Hey Chandoo, what tool do you use to do that? It looks cool.” This page is my answer to those questions.
To run Chandoo.org & other sites
Apart from Chandoo.org, I also have a few websites – excelschool.in, vbaclasses.com, startupdesi.com and others. To run all these sites, I rely on a bunch of services & companies.
GoDaddy for Domain Names & Hosting small sites
I use GoDaddy for domain registration and hosting of all my sites except Chandoo.org. I have been using them since 2008 and I am very happy with them. They provide good service, take good care of my sites and managing my sites is hassle-free.
KnownHost for hosting Chandoo.org
Nowadays, we get 1.3 ~ 1.5 Mn page views per month on Chandoo.org. Managing a busy site like this is a nightmare if you have little or no idea about webserver administration like me. Thanks to KnownHost, I sleep tight. My site runs on one their VPS plans and as you can see, performs very well.
I recommend KnownHost if you are planning to run a reasonably busy site.
Amazon S3 & CDN for speeding up my site, hosting large files
I use Amazon S3 for hosting all the static files of our site (like logos, css, scripts etc.) and also hosting any large files (like videos, brochures). I use their Cloud Front service to make our sites load fast.
PayPal, 2Checkout, EBS & E-junkie for my eCommerce
In order to manage various product sales, credit card payments and other aspects of running an online business, I rely on a slew of service providers.
PayPal: I have a paypal account since beginning of 2008 and I just love them. They make me focus on what I know best – Excel & making people awesome.
2Checkout: 2Checkout is backup payment processing I use and they are just as lovely as PayPal. The good thing with 2Checkout is that it works with more cards and in more countries compared to PayPal. Visit 2Checkout site for more info.
EBS: To handle payments by our Indian customers, I use EBS (E-Billing Solutions). They allow me to charge using debit, credit cards, net banking accounts and other payment options. Their fees are reasonable. Give them a try if you are running an e-business based in India.
E-junkie: I use e-junkie shopping cart system to manage all aspects of my eCommerce (other than Indian payments). They are smooth, easy and inexpensive. Visit e-junkie.com for more.
WordPress, bbPress, Excel & VBA as my CMS
Almost all my sites run on WordPress blogging platform. WordPress is incredibly powerful, feature packed, easy to use and just plain awesome. But not all portions of my sites to WordPress. I use bbPress to manage our Excel Forums.
And yes, I regularly use Excel & VBA to generate HTML, upload files and do more.
oDesk for outsourcing my work
I use oDesk, a site where I can hire people to do work for me to outsource aspects of my business that I am not familiar with or do not have time to do. For example, I used oDesk recently to hire someone to fine tune our site’s speed & security. They charged me less than $75 and I sleep sound at night knowing that I have nothing to loose. I recommend using oDesk if you are a small business owner like me and do not want to hire full time employees for everything.
Hardware & Tools I use to run my business
I have 3 computers.
SkyLine, which is my desktop has an Intel i5, 8 GB Ram and it rocks! I use Windows 7 Ultimate on this machine.
ThingLo, my new laptop is a Dell Vostro 1450. It has Intel i3, 4 GB ram and it does pretty good. I use Windows 7 Professional on this machine.
Shimla, is my Macbook. I bought this in 2008 and I rarely use it these days. However, I am planning to spend sometime with it as I want to create an iBook on Excel.
Hardware & Accessories
BlueYeti Mic: I use BlueYeti Mic to record my training programs, videos. It produces excellent quality output and makes me sound awesome.
Genius Tablet: I use this to add illustrations, write on screen during my training programs. Adds a lot of value to my videos and makes me look awesome.
iPhone 4: I use this to quickly reply to emails, record my thoughts, catch up on news and make skype calls. And it also makes me look awesome
Software I use to Run my business
Microsoft Excel – 2003, 2007 and 2010
I use Excel 2003 to 2010 on my desktop (SkyLine). On my laptop (ThongLo), I use Excel 2010. Need I tell you Excel is awesome
Camtasia Screen Recording & Editing Software
A big part of my work is making videos, creating screencasts & explaining things. I use Camtasia to record my training videos & screencasts. I love this software. I have been using it since 2009. It makes the process of recording, editing, producing makes very easy.
Hui uses the Windows Snipping Tool for static screenshots. It is light weight, saves files in PNG format and is available on All Vista & Win 2010 PC’s. It is available from the Start menu, All Programs, Accessories menu.
I use Camtasia Snagit to capture, edit, annotate screenshots for my articles & newsletters. It works beautifully and produces what I want in few simple steps. You can download a trial version from http://techsmith.com
I use paint.NET to edit images, process them, add illustrations and so much more. It is one software that I have been using since 2007.
FZResizer – to resize images
Often, I have to resize multiple images to standard size. This is when I use FZResizer.
MS PowerPoint 2010 – to create brochures, illustrations and presentations
I use PPT for drawings, illustrations, creating brochures, ebooks, course material and presentations. In fact, I use PPT for a lot of my design work. One heck of a tool.
I use skype for collaboration, calling and so much more. In fact, I even have a US phone number, thanks to Skype. Read more about how I use skype to run my business.
Mozy – for automated backups
I have been using Mozy on all my computers since 2010 and it makes me sleep tight knowing that all my data is secure. Simple and in-expensive solution if you are looking for automated backups. I also use a backup HDD on my desktop (SkyLine) and take full backups to it every Sunday.
PuTTY – for SSH and server administration of my sites
PuTTY is an SSH & Telnet client. It is powerful and simple to use. I use this to login to my sites thru SSH (Secure Shell) and administer.
Typing Repetative Text
Hui uses a small program Quick Text Paste to insert text that he uses repetitively in posts.
So next time you see “Firstly, Welcome to the Chandoo.org forums.” or “http://chandoo.org/forums/topic/posting-a-sample-workbook” know that he has just pressed the Windows+F or Windows+W keystrokes.
Browser & Add-ins
My primary browser is FireFox. I use this on all my computers (except, iPhone on which I use Safari). I run the latest version of FireFox. I started using it back in 2005. It used to be an excellent browser, but nowadays, it is slow, quite memory hungry and keeps on changing. I tried Chrome, IE8, IE9, but decided to stay with FireFox for lack of a better option.
On Firefox, I use a handful of add-ins to help me work faster.
FireFTP: I use this as my primary FTP client. It is simple yet powerful. In fact, this is the only FTP client I have used since 2008. [link]
Firebug: I use this to fine tune my sites design, make changes as needed and test my code (HTML, CSS). Works like a charm and cuts my site development time a lot. [link]
S3 Organizer: I use this to login to my Amazon S3 account and add files, set permissions etc. This is my primary Amazon S3 client. I also use CloudBerry Explorer on my desktop to do more with Amazon S3 account (like setting encryption, compression, expiry options etc.). [link]
Resources & Tools I use to learn more
A good part of my work involves learning new things and experimentation. In this section, you can find some of those links.
Websites on Excel & Related topics
I follow almost all regularly updated Excel related sites thru my Google Reader. Here are a few that I recommend.
- Jon Peltier’s blog
- Debra’s Contextures blog
- Mike’s Bacon Bits
- Daniel’s Excel Hero
- For more Excel links, click here.
Books on Excel & Related topics
I read quite a few books (both on Excel and outside). Here is a list of recommended books if you want to learn Excel.
What else you want to know?
I want you to know all the things I use to make you awesome in Excel. That is why I created this page. So, if you would like to anything else, please drop a comment below. I will be glad to help.
Note on the links in this page:
I have used affiliate links for some of the services & websites mentioned here. That means, if you visit the site after clicking those links and make a purchase, I will get some commission. But I love these services so much that I would have recommended them even if they do not pay me for that.