technology on a budget (part i)

Thanks go to to my colleague Mark Schneider here at UK for this informative piece (below) on finding open source and freeware software to support your user habit. (Computer user habit, of course.) Thanks, Mark! (This is Part I; See Part II tomorrow.)

Technology, for better or worse, seems to be inextricably linked to expense. Server, routers, software, Internet high-bandwidth, programmers, and maintenance all translate to significant financial investment. Or do they? New initiatives are producing notebook computers for third-world countries at $200 or less. And this will eventually carry over into the U.S. market. But that’s the future – how can we save money now?

Open source and freeware software has provided end users with a vast array of software to choose from. And if you subscribe to the adage “you get what you pay for,” think again. 

Adobe Acrobat allows you to create PDF files. DoPDF (http://www.dopdf.com/) is a free PDF converter that I’ve had a great deal of success with. Granted, Adobe’s product is more full featured, allowing editing and other functions. At my home, DoPDF helps me stay in compliance with license issues. I have one purchased copy of Adobe Acrobat and the rest of my computers have DoPDF installed. This is an obvious cost savings and there are no software violations.  PDFCreator is another free open source option (http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/).

Camtasia is a wonderful screen recorder and presentation utility. It captures voice narration as well. An alternative to Camtasia is CamStudio (http://camstudio.org/). This is an open source program that, like Camtasia, captures screen and audio on your desktop. Camtasia is a more full-featured product, but CamStudio may be all you need for your presentations. You can download both Camtasia and CamStudio to compare and contrast their features. In the long run, I have been very satisfied with CamStudio.

Microsoft Office Suite has been a staple for several years. It has outlasted WordPerfect’s Suite, as well as a host of others.  Enter OpenOffice (http://www.openoffice.org/).  This suite, owned by Sun Microsystems, has been made available to the public for free. And if that’s not enough, the suite will run on multiple operating systems. OpenOffice easily opens existing Microsoft Office files for viewing, editing and saving. The best recommendation I can give for this software? My father, who is a non-techie, has been using OpenOffice for a year and loves it. Google has entered the fray with their Google apps. The standard edition of Google Docs (http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/editions.html) is free. Certain caveats include limited Microsoft Word features, as well as needing to be connected to the Internet.

Come back tomorrow for Part II!

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One Response

  1. I’m giving this a try, thanks for sharing this 🙂

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