I this page you can find a list of extremely useful resources that have been very helpful during my research. I have divided the list into two categories: on-line utilities and software utilities to show that very often a simple (or not so simple) task can be carried out without installing any program.
ShareLaTeX: a great LaTeX editor
I have been using LaTeX for a long time ago; however, I can remember how difficult was to make it work for the first time on my computer. Fortunately, with this on-line editor, you don't need to worry about choosing, installing and configuring a LaTeX editor because ShareLaTeX comes with a LaTeX environment that is ready to go.
In addition, the web page offers hundreds of example documents such as cover letters, CVs, thesis templates or even journal templates from different publishers. As if this were not enough, the editor also allows multiple users to work simultaneously on a document and provides the ability to sync to dropbox or github.
Web plot digitizer: a free tool to extract data from plots, images and maps
Imagine that you are working on an experiment that is related to some results from other colleagues. You have only a plot with their results and you would like to validate the mathematical model of your experiment with their experimental data. How to convert the information available on the plot to data on a *.txt or *.csv file format? Clearly, this is a made-up situation; however, there are many occasions where we only have access to a plot in a pdf, png or jpg format and we want to use that information as input data on a computer program.
Very recently I have found WebPlotDigitizer, a great on-line conversion tool that very efficiently converts the information available on a plot into a csv or txt file after a few simple steps. It can be used to retrieve data from 2D plots, bar plots, polar diagrams, maps or even images! To use it, just define the scale by the "calibrate axes" option and then select the line color of the plot that you want to convert. Press "Run" and voilà! The figure shows a usage example where the information on the blue line is converted into data on a csv file.
Free Online Animated GIF: display your data using an animation
A nice way to display your experimental results is by using a simple animation. GIFMaker.me provides all the tools required to create animated gifs, slideshows, and video animations easily, and for free! Here you can see a short sequence taken from the screen of an Optical Spectrum Analyzer with a webcam. The graph shows how the peak of the spectrum of a Fiber Bragg Grating changes in wavelength when the tension on the fiber increases.