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Creating an Efficient & Organized Digital Home Office on the Road

The Road Warrior, technology November 1st, 2008

I was on a cruise this past week. With a ton of writing to be done, and little motivation to do it, replicating the home office on the high seas would be a challenge.

But even if I was motivated, I was stymied. My HP Tablet laptop had no CD drive, so I hadn’t installed Microsoft Office before leaving (sure, I could have logged on and downloaded it, but at nearly half a gig for the whole app, who has the time or needs the hassle?).

And do you know what it’s like to write completely in Notepad or Wordpad? Talk about laborious…

But then I had an epiphany. What about installing Sun Microsystem’s OpenOffice 3.0? Free and open, it’s another example of spry guys sticking it to The Machine. I’m not alone. According to the OOo “Thermometer,” the app has had five million downloads from Oct. 13-25. Even Pamela Anderson doesn’t have that many downloads!

So last night, I downloaded OpenOffice — all 142 megabytes of it. Once I completed the install, it was simplicity in action. Launch the applet, and a small menu box opens with icons of each app or action - eight in all. Sure, it’s not “Word,” but you can figure out what will happen if you launch “Text Document,” or Spreadsheet” or “Presentation.” They’re all saved in the common formats, including those associated with Office docs.

That’s the beauty here, as noted in its Mission Statement: OOo seeks “to create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format.”

It works with Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It’s familiar and easy to learn. It initially received a “Very Good” rating from PC Magazine. In his review, ComputerWorld’s Preston Gralla said, “Still, if you’re looking for a suite to use at home or a small business — or if your enteprise hasn’t standardized on Office — you should give this suite a try. It’ll save you hundreds of dollars. And in today’s economic times, that’s a very big deal.”

Some users lamented its Database application, preferring MS Access. One preferred it for “light work,” and lamented the fact that it’s primarily in English and “a lot of people on Earth don’t speak English.”

For today, I’ll still use Office on my primary PC. But for my laptop, it’s OOo. When I buy my next PC (or could that be a Mac?), I’ll opt for OOo.

Want to learn more? Visit the OpenOffice site, or read the its Wikipedia entry.

One Response to “Creating an Efficient & Organized Digital Home Office on the Road”

  1. Steven Says:

    A very neat feature, that OpenOffice has, is the ability to save documents as a PDF file without buying Acrobat. I’ve been using it at work for years.

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