Firefox and OpenOffice.org


If you pay any attention to the links section of my blog, ailment you have probably noticed the links to Firefox and OpenOffice.org. These are two great products that I highly recommend. Let me tell you a little bit more about them

“Open Source” defined

Both of these software products are “open source,” (see definition in Wikipedia) meaning their source code is freely available to the public–both for development and use. People volunteer their time to help make the products better. The products are free to the public, and can be used without any compensation (though donations are appreciated).

Firefox

The first open source product I became familiar with is Firefox, which is a web browser replacement for Micro$oft’s Internet Explorer (MS IE). Firefox is lean (small in size), and is safer than MS IE because it doesn’t allow hackers to have as much access to perform actions on your computer.

Firefox is also highly customizable. You can download “themes” to make your browser’s button bars appear however you want, and you can download “extensions,” or small programs that add functionality to your browser. Here are some of the extensions I have installed in my version of Firefox:

Adblock. This extension lets you click on any image, and block it from your screen. You can use a * symbol as a wildcard to block all images from certain advertisers. For example, one entry in my block list is: http://*.advertising.com/* — so any images being sent to my computer from any server on the advertising.com domain will not be displayed in my browser. Ever. My web pages look a lot cleaner, now that I’m able to remove the ugly ads.

ForecastFox. This extension is a highly customizable Weather.com extension that shows the weather forecast for my zip code in the status bar of my Firefox browser. Right now I can see that it is currently Partly Cloudy in Midvale with a 60% chance of precipitation today.

ieview. Despite how wonderful Firefox truly is, there are some websites (like pages in my corporate portal) that only work using MS IE. This extension puts a link in my context menu (the menu I see when I right-click in blank space on a webpage) to open that page in MS IE. If I navigate to a page that Firefox can’t show, I can just right click to see the page in MS IE.

I have more, but this is just the beginning. I highly recommend that you install and use Firefox.

OpenOffice.org

I first heard about OpenOffice.org from a colleague at work. He was talking about how it is the only office software that he uses. Basically, OpenOffice.org is a replacement for not just your word processing software, but the whole office suite. OpenOffice.org includes a word processor (comparable in features to Micro$oft Word), a spreadsheet program (comparable in features to MS Excel), and HTML editor, a presentation program (comparable in features to MS PowerPoint), and other bonus programs. This software costs you nothing!

One of the great things about OpenOffice.org is that it is able to read and write to MS formats. So while you are using a free software package, you are able to send and read files from all your friends who are paying hundreds of dollars for their software. The beta release of OpenOffice.org 2.0 includes WordPerfect filters, so you can read/save WordPerfect files as well.

I’ve been using the 1.0 release for a couple of months, and I really like it. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it really is a good program. I installed the beta version of 2.0 last week, and I really like it. This release aims to make it even more compatible with advanced MS features so it is able to import MS files better than before.

If you aren’t ready to switch to OpenOffice yet, at least keep your eye on it. Next time you buy a new computer, there really is no reason to pay extra for word processing software, when you can get compatible software that is just as powerful for free.


6 responses to “Firefox and OpenOffice.org”

  1. You’ve made me remember how much I love FireFox, and how annoyed I am that I can’t use it on my university’s network. GRRR!

    Oh, and I had also forgotten about the HTML editor in OpenOffice. Ironically, I just spent about 3 hours updating my website (though I haven’t uploaded it yet), using only Notebook. I wish I had thought to use OpenOffice for that.

  2. I know, it sounds like I ought to be getting paid. But that is the great thing about the open source movement. Everybody contributes how they can. I get to be a promoter… spread the good word…

  3. We have firefox at my house. And another thing that we have at my house is: Yappy’s Dog treat. Yappy’s dog treats gives your dog with the wholesome goodness that all dogs need. It can be found at your local pet shops and costco!

  4. Well, I’m trying to get OOo to work for me, but it’s still
    missing stuff that Word has and that I like a whole lot,
    such as autosizing column widths in tables to fit the
    contents. And there are still some kinks to be worked out.
    I’m trying to display a three-column table within a
    two-column section, and OOo just won’t do it right.

    Learning the API so you can use OOo Basic to write macros
    is also a bear. The docs are quite cumbersome, and the
    examples are minimal (unless you want to use UNO and Java.)

    Argh.

Leave a Reply