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Vol. 43, No. 3 • March 2006 • .pdf version
Technical advice: Open Office: You can't beat the price
By TED GANGI / Webmaster
We all want the latest, greatest, state-of-the-art tools that make our jobs easier, right?
Sometimes, though, we have to settle for what the company gives us or, frankly, for what we can afford.
While each of us has a varying level of computer/technology aptitude – from
"Give me back my typewriter" to "Man,
Surely, everyone is accustomed to using Microsoft Office software, whether it's Word, Excel or Outlook. And, in most cases, your company will foot the bill.
And, it's very inexpensive and even free if you don't feel the need for technical support beyond user forums.
Open Office is what is called open-source software from Sun Microsystems. Just go to www.openoffice.org and download it. It has programs that virtually replicate Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. For a writer's purposes, the most valuable program is probably Open Office Writer, the equivalent of Microsoft Word. And, all of these powerful Open Office programs are free.
If you want to step up in class a bit, purchase Star Office 8 from Sun, which
you can buy for $69.99, and then download
Admittedly, I was skeptical. How could this free software do anywhere near what the $300-plus brand name does?
Well, I have used the free Open Office for several weeks now, and I have yet to find a case where it is not compatible.
You can save the files as actual Word (or Excel or Powerpoint) documents. You can open other MS Office documents that may have been sent to you and, of course, you can convert any document to a .pdf.
Nothing against Microsoft. I use FrontPage to maintain the USBWA website, and it has been flawless and affordable, and it's regularly updated.
But, unless you want to spend a lot more than you have to, Open Office – or Star Office 8 – provides an affordable and highly usable alternative to Microsoft Office.
Ted Gangi serves as the webmaster of the USBWA's official site, www.usbwa.com and is the assistant sports editor for DallasNews.com, the website of The Dallas Morning News. His tech tips column will appear regularly in The Tipoff.
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