Posted by: Nick | Tuesday 29 July 2008

Top Tips, Blogs & Pod Casts

I was listening to Jerry’s Scoutmaster Minute Pod Cast show 17 on Saturday (where do you get the time Jerry???), and one of the things he and his guest Shawn were talking about was promoting their Packs and Troops. When talking about Pack / Troop etc. web sites, one of the suggestions Shawn had for these sites was to have a calendar. He suggested Google Calendars as a good, free solution. I was aware of Google’s calendars, but had forgotten about them.

A few weeks ago, I totally redesigned our Group’s site (I went from a Joomla based one to a WordPress one) and I found a calendar plug in, but it didn’t work properly! You could see the current month, but not go forward or backwards – most unhelpful! Anyway, after Shawn’s suggestion, I’ve put the Google Calendar into our site (which was easy) and I’m now in the process of populating it. The main thing is that it works ‘out of the box’ and is free. These are both important for organisations where there isn’t a lot of ‘computing knowledge’ (not meant as in insult, just an observation) and they don’t want to be spending oodles of money on non activity and meeting related items. Job done!

I got me thinking of all the computing ‘freebies’ out there that can be used by Scout Leaders to promote their Groups / Troops etc. without spending lots of money on commercial products. So below is a non definitive list of programmes that can be used on your computer to help the promotion and organisation of the Group / Troop etc.

However, a quick thought. There seems to be a considerable number of Scout Leaders (I’m using the all encompassing UK term here) in the US, who take the time and effort to produce web sites, blogs and pod casts with the purpose of passing on their knowledge and experience to others in the movement, especially the BSA (makes sense to talk of what you know!). I enjoy reading these and listening to them all and keep coming across new ones all the time (just listening to An Hour A Week? by Cubmaster Chris for the first time). And while these are interesting and provide good ideas, they all, of course, relate to the BSA, which runs their Scouting slightly differently to the SA. So where are the blogs etc. in the UK? The answer is, I don’t know! My blog has started to become more Scout based in the last year or so, but I still talk about other stuff. But I haven’t found anything similar. Escouts provides forums for Leaders to discuss issues.
In the mean time I’ll still enjoy reading and listening to what my colleagues across the Pond have to say!

So here’s the list of useful, free programmes –

  • Ubuntu Linux – Got a PC and don’t want to have a less than legal version of Windows on it and can’t afford to buy one, then try this. A relatively straightforward operating system, which comes with most things you will need to surf the net and type stuff. Does need a bit of technical know how though.
  • – Want to type letters etc. but can’t afford Office (this isn’t going to be an anti Microsoft rant – see later), try this. It has a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation functions which are all compatible with MS Office.
  • PDFCreator – Make all your documents available to all by being able to create PDF files.
  • Firefox – A great browser which has lots of add on’s available – IE Tab, Morning Coffee and Foxmarks being my favourites.
  • Windows Live Programmes – Windows Live Writer (which I’m using to write this) to publish to blogs, Windows Live Photo Gallery to view and fix your photos and Windows Live Messenger, MSN Messenger as was. There are a few others, but these are the ones I use. See, told you the list wasn’t and MS bash!
  • Paint.NET – A image manipulation programme, which is almost as powerful as Photoshop and around £600 cheaper!
  • WordPress and Blogger – Provide free blogging software and hosting.
  • AVG Free – Popular anti virus software. Something to never be without, especially if you use a PC!
  • Zone Alarm – Popular free firewall software. See above.

There is loads more out there, just check out File Hippo, but that will do for my list! A lot of the above are cross platform, but some are Windows only.



  1. Nick-
    Thanks for the comments and thanks for listening to the shows.
    We need to figure out a way to get you on as a guest host.
    The links to free stuff is a great way to get folks interested in blogging etc.
    My advice would be to go to Blogger and just start one.
    We all have something to add and the wonderful world of Scouting is an amazing subject with limitless topics.
    Thanks again

    Yours in Scouting.. on this side of the pond
    Have a Great Scouting Day


  2. Thanks for the comments on the podcast, first time here, Jerry turned me onto your blog…will definetely be back…


  3. […] Just read Jerry’s blog and he’s posted that a friend of his has started blogging as well. Shawn appeared on Jerry’s podcast a few weeks ago and with their discussion, it helped me with a problem I was having with the Scout Group’s web site (see here). […]

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