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Tech Tips      

 Yesterday's economic news was negative. The AP reported that consumer prices shot up at two times the expected rate in July, that inflation is running at the fastest pace in 17 years, and that July was the 3rd straight month that saw oversized inflation increases. In addition, they reported that the Labor Department announced that average weekly earnings (adjusted for inflation) fell 3.1% in July. Compared to one year ago, this was the largest year over year decline since 1990.

Of course, this was not real news to those of us who have to buy gas and groceries every day. Our dollars just don't go as far as they used to, and it does not appear that this situation will change anytime soon.

This downturn in the American economy also has a great impact the profitability of small businesses and the non-profits. We are going to have to get creative to develop ways to raise income and to cut costs.

One way to save is to spend as little as possible for administrative overhead. Sometimes its possible to just put purchases on hold and do without in the short term, but at other times, we have to purchase a particularly pricey item to just get the job done. Software is often in this expensive, must-have category.

This month's RoadMap discusses OpenOffice.org, a free full-featured office suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office and other purchased office suite products. If you are in the position of having to purchase an office suite product, consider using this free alternative software.
OpenOffice.org RoadMap
Roadmap
What is OpenOffice.ort?
OpenOffice.org (OOo) is both a software product and a project that produces and supports the software.
The project began in 2000 when Sun Microsystems (a major software vendor) released the source code to its office suite product, StarOffice, to the open source community. Today, OOo is supported by both the open source project and Sun Microsystems. Also, new versions of Sun's StarOffice use code developed by the OOo project. Because someone else owns the trademark OpenOffice, the correct name for both the open-source project and the software is OpenOffice.org. Everyone is free to use and to redistribute OOo, thanks to its open source license.

OOo is a feature-rich suite of products which includes:
OOo Writer - word processor
OOo Calc - spreadsheet
OOo Impress - presentations
OOo Draw - vector graphics
OOo Base - database
OOo Math - formula editor

Why Use OpenOffice.org?

No licensing fee. OOo is free to use and to distribute. Many features that cost extra in other office suites are free in OOo.

Open Source. You can change the software as much as you wish to make it useful for your organization. You can also copy and redistribute the software as long as you follow the rules of one of the OOo Open Source licenses.

Cross-Platform. OOo runs on lots of different types of computer operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linus, and Sun Solaris.

Extensive language support. Ooo's user interface is available in over 40 languages, including right to left layout languages, and the project provides spelling, hyphenation, and thesaurus dictionaries in over 70 languages and dialects.

Consistent user interface. All of the components of OOo have a similar look and feel, which makes them easy to master.

Integration. The components of OOo work together. They share common spell checkers and other tools. You can get to every OOo application from any other application within the suite.

Granularity. When you make a change to a feature, you do not have to make a global change. You can change options at component level and even at the document level.

File compatibility. You can export OOo files directly into PDF and Flash format. OOo also allows you to open and save files in many common formats including MS Office, HTML, XML, WordPerfect, and Lotus 123.

No Vendor Lock-in. OOo files can be read by any text editor.

You have a voice. If you need an enhancement or a fix to OOo, you can join the community and make your needs known. The community determines what changes are made when.

How do I learn more?

Information for this RoadMap was taken from Chapter 1 of the OOo Getting Started Guide. You can get additional information about OOo by reading the entire chapter. Additional resources are provided in the Quick Links section of this newsletter.
SmartSite Technology is the virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
 
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Sincerely,
 
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology 
August 2008
In This Issue
OpenOffice.org RoadMap
Your Tech Tutor Says...
 
Where do I find more Open Source software?
tutor pic number 1
OK, you've convinced me to look at OOo. I like the idea of having more money to use on my mission rather than spending it on expensive software. Is there more free software available? If so, where do I go to find it?

SourceForge.net is the largest and most comprehensive warehouse of open source software. SourceForge.net is a source code repository used by open source software developers to control and manage their development projects. Anyone can access the projects hosted on SourceForge.net and can download any software application for their use. As of August 2008, SourceForge.net hosts more than 180,000 projects and has over 1.9 million registered users, although it does contain many dormant or single user projects.

It is essential to remember that even free open source software is not truly "free." Just like with newly purchased software, it will take time and effort on your part to verify that the open source software you choose is appropriate for your organization. Open Source projects with larger user bases and an active development community will be more likely to satisfy your needs.

Make sure that the open source software you choose will meet your needs by answering the following questions:
  • Does the software contains all of the features I need?
  • If it does not, is the software project active?
  • Am I willing to participate in the project development community to make sure my changes are made?
  • How long can I wait for the changes I need?
  • Have I thoroughly tested the application to ensure that it is bug free and does what I need it to do?
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