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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 28, 2009 / 8 Elul 5769

Computing on the cheap

By Mark Kellner



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As back-to-school shoppers exhibit parsimonious traits in the face of uncertain economic times, the question arises: Can you do what you need to do with a computer for less money, or even no money?


In many cases, perhaps most, the answer is yes. Herewith, some ideas after a brief but important caveat.


The caveat is this: There are many, many alternatives to standard applications — the ones that can cost what seems like an arm and a leg — but almost none of the alternative programs I have seen is the true equal of its higher-priced counterpart. Some offer more or better features; some offer fewer features. None, so far as I'm aware, is totally analogous to, for example, Microsoft Office.


I mention this upfront to spare readers some potential disappointment. Free programs are, well, free software, and sometimes you get what you pay for. On the other hand, you might be very pleasantly surprised by what you find.


Let's start with what I'm guessing is the "big" application for most people: word processing. Here, for my money (or not), my favorite remains OpenOffice.org's productivity suite, found, oddly enough, at www.openoffice.org. The program, available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple Macintosh users, tries to ape just about every function and feature of the Microsoft Office applications suite, including word processing, spreadsheet and presentations. As I've said before, there's a database, but I'm as unimpressed with Base, the OpenOffice answer to Microsoft Access as, frankly, I am with the real thing.


The OpenOffice word processor is more than sufficient for most tasks, and many users likely will find it a very good replacement for Microsoft Word. (My wife isn't one of them; she prefers the genuine article.) The menu and command structure are very similar to those of Word, and although it has been reported that not every platform version of OpenOffice will open Microsoft Word XML 2007-formatted files (commonly known by the extension ".docx") they all will open and write the 2004 format, which all versions of Microsoft Word will read.


I'm also impressed with Calc, the OpenOffice spreadsheet. Unlike the latest version of Microsoft Excel for Mac, the OpenOffice version will support Visual Basic macros, the little bits of microcode that automate some spreadsheet functions. While we wait — and wait — for Microsoft to fix this on the Mac side, you still can get your work done.


Some students may want or need a presentation graphics program; those who do will likely not be disappointed with Impress, which is the OpenOffice answer to Microsoft PowerPoint. Impress also creates presentations in PDF and Adobe Flash formats, which can let you distribute them in smaller, nonalterable packages.


Web browsing is free in terms of software. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8, Google's Chrome, Mozilla.org's Firefox and Apple's Safari are all available for Windows users. Firefox supports Linux as well as Macintosh, the latter being the home platform for Safari, of course. Opera, the Norwegian browser I've discussed many times, also spans just about every major computing platform. Many users swear by it.


E-mail, however, is a different challenge. Many people use Web-based services such as AOL, Google's Gmail, Microsoft's Hotmail or Yahoo Mail. All of these, in their most basic incarnations, are free and merely require an Internet browser for access.


However, if you want to access some specific e-mail services and prefer to have a separate e-mail "client" for this, Mozilla's Thunderbird — available, as is Firefox, via www.mozilla.com — is my personal favorite among the free programs. It's elegant, practical, versatile and lets you request a return receipt for your e-mail no matter what computing platform you're using. (In Mac-land, Apple and Microsoft, among others, seem to think a return-receipt function is unnecessary.)


If you're committed to doing everything online, Google Docs, part of the Google world-cradling platform of applications, will cover your word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation needs. It's free unless, you're paying for a connection to the Internet or wireless airtime.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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