Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Free Software For You?

What kind of software do you need to use? What if it were available for free? Would it surpise you to know that it probably is available, now, for free?

Cathy has claimed that I am philosophically egocentric; that is to say that I think the rest of world sees and understands things as I see and understand them.

This, as you have no doubt surmised, is simply not true.

I assumed that everyone else is as cheap as I am... that is not the case. That does not mean I always go for the least expensive item that will do the job. Rather, I look for the value I get for the resources I expend, including time, effort and dollars. That's why I rarely recommend the "newest and greatest" computers or software to people.

I believe in matching need with means. If you need a really fast computer to do your job, I'll recommend one. But if you only need a mid-range computer to browse the Internet, some word processing and photo editing, I'd recommend that.

I don't like to pay for things I don't need. I did not (directly) purchase the copy of Windows XP running on this laptop; it "came with" the computer. I needed a word processor, so I downloaded OpenOffice. I needed a web page editor, so I downloaded Nvu (granted, I could have used Mozilla Composer, but I was already using FireFox).

Being a computer nerd I probably use a greater percentage of my computer than the general computer-using population. People often consult me regarding what best to buy or how to accomplish something on their computer. Through time, my subconcious has absorbed a means of ascertaining just how large a feature set any given inquirer might actually need.

So, while most people are comfortably with spending the $124 at Costco for Microsoft Office (a pretty good deal, actually), I honestly doubt that most people will touch, say, 50% of the features of Microsoft Word. As such, OpenOffice is a far better solution. I've played with it, and it handles great.

I'll be posting more free (and usually opensource) products in the near future. What kind of things do you need? Let me know...

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