Thursday, January 25, 2007


Do you chafe inwardly at the digital tyranny of Microsoft? Do you wonder if there is a way to reduce the irritation caused by frequent crashes and burns. Are your finger muscles sore and red from repeatedly clicking on error reports to the Bill Gates brain trust? Do you fear having your tongue fall out of your mouth as a result of the foul curses heaped upon inanimate objects and control keys that control nothing?

Never fear. Uncle Larry has soothing balm. Baby powder for your digital brain. He recently downloaded the OpenOffice.Org suite of programs very similar to Microsoft Office. Text documents, spreadsheets, databases, presentations. Pretty much everything MS Office does. And this is an open source program. Free.

Did I mention that it's Free? And it works pretty well too. I haven't explored the thing extensively, but I have begun to use it for documents. The word processor works much like MS Word. One thing it does do, which I like a lot, is easily convert text documents to PDFs. Very cool.

I've had a look at the spreadsheet setup, but believe it or not, I'm sticking to Excel for now. Mainly because I'm familiar with it. Don't have to search for things.

Most of you probably know that there is a growing presence of open source programming now available on the net. Everyone's heard of Linux. I love this idea. Unfortunately, I feel tied to the Microsoft operating system. Maybe at some future point I'll have the luxury of both. Still, there's lots of other free stuff available if you look. If you Google "open source software" you get 291 million hits.

For now, though, I recommend OpenOffice.Org. Or I should say, I recommend that you check it out.

Meanwhile, speaking of Google. I've been delving into some of the services they have (not least of which is this blog!) Talk about global hegemony! But the many services they offer for free are hard to refuse sometimes. I've actually made my home page a Google home page now, with a clock, a calendar, a notepad, several news feeds, a Buddhist Thought of the Day, iTunes free downloads, an eBook feed, a font of the day, Google docs & spreadsheets, a service to create PDFs...I'm gearing up to be some sort of power user. What sort I don't know. But I've got some ideas. Stay tuned.

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