May 13, 2013
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
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April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
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Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
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April 24, 2013
Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on
April 22, 2013
US man departing country arrested on terror charges
An unorthodox but growing treatment in a 9-year-old's battle against cancer
April 19, 2013
Caroline B. Glick:
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Gold collapse: The start of something big?
Livable super-Earths? Two candidates among Kepler's latest finds
April 17, 2013
Too much of a good thing? 'Palestinians' realize downside of foreign aid boom
BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!
April 15, 2013
Egyptian Christians respond with harsh words to attack -- rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire -- against main cathedral
Marcy Darnovsky and Karuna Jaggar:
High Court to decide if you should own your DNA
US bracing for more Russian blowback after taking action against 18 more human rights violators
April 12, 2013
New cybersecurity bill: Privacy threat or crucial band-aid?
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom:
The Kosher Gourmet by Susan Russo:
Jackie Robinson's Friend, Hank Greenberg; CNN's Jake Tapper; Texas County in the News is named for 19thC. Jewish soldier and Congressman
FRUITY QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS: A flavorful, colorful and edible vessel of delicately fluffy, mildly nutty filling combined with chewy apricots, tangy cherries, and crunchy pistachios
April 10, 2013
North Korean missiles: Could US shoot them down?
Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets
Donald Hensrud, M.D.:
Mayo Clinic Medical Edge: Take vitamin supplements with caution --- even approved, they may actually do damage
74 DNA discoveries move cure closer for three cancers
April 8, 2013
Jonathan Tobin: What Part of No Preconditions Do American Jews Not Get?
Is Putin finally trading his own party for a new power base?
Jewish World Review
August 28, 2009
/ 8 Elul 5769
Computing on the cheap
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.
© 2009, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com
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