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Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 1
Junior Member
With the price of software these days it may not be well known that there are alternatives to high priced office suites and Operating systems that are just as good and FREE.

OPEN OFFICE is a FREE office suite that works on windows and Linux. It is almost as good as MS office and has all the same features. I dont own a business but I hope to soon and am trying to get my boss converted over to Linux as the cost of XP or vista on 5 machines can be a big cost. Just something to think about if your going to start a new business and dont have alot of money to spend on software.
What is Linux?
I would be interested on comments on this post. Thx

Latest Estimating Cost Guides & Software:
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 11
sjb Offline
Hi all,

I've been using OpenOffice for number of months and I endorse it. There are some limitations compared to Microsoft Office, but overall, it works well. Note: I only use the word processing and spreadsheet on a regular basis. Other programs included: database, presentation (like PowerPoint), and drawing.

A heads-up: If you are used to MSOffice products, you will have a bit of a learning/adjustment curve! And, the mailmerge feature in the word processing program is NOT as good (or intuitive) as MSWord. I still have MS Word on another computer and ended up using that the last time I needed to do a mailing. Also, some aspects of the spreasheet are a bit clunky, but nothing to cause any problems.

I find also that I have to save files in MS format (easy to do) if I plan to share them.

But, overall, OpenOffice is a great thing.

Wendy (office manager)

Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 348
ITO Offline
It cost about $150 to add MS Office suite to a new Dell, and the OS is about a $100, so what are you really saving here?

101° Rx = + /_\
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 36
You may be saving privacy, and security.

Proprietary Software registrations, licensing, and validation kits warehouse personal information, with very little regulation.

Further, Microsoft scripts and Active-X are proprietary methods exploited frequently enough on IE, and for this reason are the scorn of most Enterprise networks that historically refuse link permissions to MS Access, Excel, etc..

Open office automation is based on PERL, and other peer-reviewed developments with a long history of improvements in the public domain.

Open source models draw upon these projects and talents from all over the world, but it doesn't pay very well.

The global-programming community proved they could easily free the world from Microsoft's monopoly by creating both a cross platform and more secure office suite (Open Office) and browser (Mozilla FIREFOX) that both work on PC's, MAC's, Linux, etc..

But, now the market must decide if these Open-Source standards should be adopted en mass, beyond the enterprise, or supported enough to attract 3rd party add-ons and extensions, which have enjoyed a long ride on Microsoft's profit wagon.

Roger Ramjet
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 348
ITO Offline
1) As a business man I do not hold making a profit against anyone. In fact I highly encourage others to make profits and lots of em too. The more money MS makes the more they spend and contrary to popular belief it does trickle down to folks like me.

2) As a business owner, I have no real privacy and have filled out so many credit applications, product registrations, and vender registrations it would completely ridiculous to think changing software would afford me any level of privacy. If you want privacy, being a contractor is not for you. Hey if you want a free Greenlee hat you have to give up some more privacy and there is a whole three of guys here waiting for their hat to come in.

3) I probably own somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 in software, all of which is either Windows based or in the case of Timberline is only supported in Windows. Quite of bit of software in business is very proprietary, and I am not talking about Word and Excel, which would mean making a swap to a open system cause a lot more problems than it would claim to solve.

4) You probably don’t remember what computers were like Pre-Microsoft, but I do. Something as simple as printing was near impossible with out real technical help, and once you had it all set up, you did not change anything unless you had too. Installing any kind of hardware was a real pain the butt that took technical skill. Then one day the big hairy ape called Micro Soft came along and established protocols and way for people like me to install a printer that not only worked by work correctly the first time, and if printer manufactures wanted there equipment to work on a MS box there was a way to make it happen and the big hairy ape to show them how it was to be done, and everyone complied and their was much rejoicing.

That is the real point here MS is the big hairy ape that everyone uses and most everyone’s standards comply with. Even the open source stuff you tout complies with Microsoft’s standards for doc and xls files and every piece of hardware you could ever want to buy complies with MS. From a business point of view why would you want more than one standard to comply with? If a program or a piece of hardware does not support Windows, I wont but it.

5) Open Office is not just like Word and Excel, and there is a learning curve. Why would you want to retrain competent employee, in short if it aint broken don’t fix it.

6) Share Point, just saying that alone should be enough of an explanation but if you don’t know what it is, then let me just add this it is one of the most powerful, scale able, customizable, project management tools I have ever used. There is one caveat, it only runs on windows and is only compatible with MS office. Using MS office is a small price to pay for using it.

7) Mozzilla/Firefox is just plain awesome, and I use it almost exclusively. If it did not support windows, guess what….almost nobody would use it. Even the free cool stuff has to play by the big hairy apes rules and that is fine by me, because it works.

8) Active-x has a switch you know, you can turn it off, and there is a lot to be said for a good firewall.

Just my 2 cents, I use computers at work to make money and there is no point in re-inventing the wheel to save $150.

101° Rx = + /_\
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 37
Well said ITO.

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 36
Any contractor that can use Microsoft Office, or keep Windows stable on any system, much less discuss it here, has earned my respect.

However, Consumer Reports shows no individual talent is extraordinary enough to prevent the sale of their personal information, which leads to ID theft, asset theft, and even murder.

"CR Investigates Your Privacy for Sale", Consumer Reports Magazine, October 2006, pp 41-45.

The "CR Quick Take" one the first page, summarizes this article as follows.

"Large data brokers have your numbers--Social Security, phone, and credit cards. They might also know about the drugs you take, what you buy, your political party, and your sexual orientation. When we investigated this secretive industry, we discovered:

* Data broker are willing to sell even your most sensitive information to paying customers, some of them crooks.

* Pretexters, who lie to get information about you and sell it to anybody, operate largely free of regulation."

Page 42 continues:

"But most of this list creation comes from consumer behavior, whether it is buying from catalogs, ordering magazines, joining associations, or filling our warranty cards.."

From page 43:

"The three major data brokers have all suffered major breaches in recent years, although only ChoicePoint thus far has led to censure by the Federal Trade Commission. It slapped the company with a $10 million fine, the largest civil penalty in agency history.

..the company released data to crooks whose requests used commercial mail drops as business addresses.. As it turned out, a Nigerian fraud ring was behind the breach..

To date, says Brian Hoffstadt, an assistant U.S. attorney who co-prosecuted the case against the data thieves, $600,000 worth of fraudulent credit-card charges have been documented ..and we may not know the true impact for quite a while," Hoffstadt says.

The article gets worse as it describes the Pentagon, military recruiters, and FBI as ChoicePoint's largest customers.

"When EPIC filed a request under the freedom of information Act in 2001 to obtain copies of records relating to federal agencies' use of data brokers, among the documents it received as a Jan 13, 2000, PowerPoint slide presentation with ChoicePoint and Federal Bureau of Investigation logos displayed together above the report's title: "A Partnership for the New Millennium." All other text on the slides had been blacked out, and to date, the FBI has failed to deliver 5,000 additional pages of ChoicePoint contracting documents."

"The data industry has a shady element that includes private investigators and others who practice so-called pretexting: impersonating a relative, company officials, or even law-enforcement personnel to obtain confidential consumer information.

The results can be deadly. Case in point: Amy Boyer of Nashua, N.H, was fatally gunned down by Liam Youens, a stalker, as she left work. Youens had obtained, for less than $200, all of the information he needed to track her from an online data broker that, court papers say, hired a pretexter to find out where she worked..

The murder occurred in 1999, but similar "backgounding" services have only grown. Rob Douglas, founder of, Information-Security consultants, says, "With the advent of the Internet, data brokers learned how much money could be made selling phone and bank records to customers online, and the feeding frenzy was on.."

Customers buying covertly obtained information range from large corporations.. to snoops.. According to statements that some data brokers have provided to congressional investigators..

A few flegling efforts to combat the release of personal information have made headway..

To get legislators' attention, she demonstrated the potential for harm in January 2005 by posting on her own Web site ( a few Social Security numbers for people whose records she spotted online. Among them: former CIA Director Porter Goss, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who's number was blacked out on Dade County online records after she drew attention to it. "I understand why he'd want to black out his number," Ostergren says, "But shouldn't everyone have that right?"

Roger Ramjet
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 36
Last year, I found the pages of the above piece by Consumer reports, ripped out of the magazine at my local library, before asking the reference desk to track down another copy.

I believe US laws restricts disclosure of Age, Financial, Medical, and perhaps Military discharge status, as conditions of employment or purchase, but those laws discourage no one from asking for that information.

See 2006 figures: ID Theft Is Exploding In The U.S.

I am also suspicious of MS Windows ".NET Framework", which invites me to store a master password on some industrial-internet server, and MS Windows "Automatic Updates", which keeps re-installing the ".NET Framework" every time I try to remove it.

Further, whenever using Windows, a two-way firewall must be used to block components from transmitting my data out to the internet, since the Windows XP firewall only checks one-way, or arriving transmissions.

I see Open-Source software produced under a General Public Licenses (GPL), as modeling public policy and consumer protections, while the Captains of Industry are largely shown by state courts as drunken pirates that plan strategic-legal penalties as part of the cost of doing business.

Roger Ramjet
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 348
ITO Offline
In the American business environment we have no real expectation of privacy, and sadly there is a chronic lack of common sense too.

1) There are many hardware fire walls available, I use an SMC barricade.

2) No script for add-in for Firefox, is a must.

4) Turn off active x.

3) Almost every piece of software I own is registered to:

Elwood Blues
1234 Main St.
Pleasantville, TX 77777
Organization: Lack Thereof

The few that are registered to me are done so in my business name. However none of it really matters because ultimately my ISP is in my name and from there is just turtles. So do you know of a free “open source” so to speak ISP that allows complete anonymity?

4) No matter how hard you really want to believe that Dr. Mabooboo in Chad has 20 million dollars in an account that he needs to launder out of the country, do not give him your bank account number.

Sure open source works, but is not mature enough and the the business world is not ready for it, and anyone that cant keep a windows system stable in the business world will go out of business if they don’t figure it out.

101° Rx = + /_\
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 36
The cross-platform TOR project addresses privacy issues with internet browsing.

Vidalia bundles TOR & Privoxy to secure IP leaks.

This Open-Source install is simple, except for your browser-connection settings, which requires manually setting the Proxy's to: Localhost:8118

I would agree setting up Vidalia, a two-way firewall like ZoneAlarm, disabling browser Scripts, and Active-X on Windows systems --except during "Windows Updates", would help keep on-line transactions private. I only use IE for Updates, so never mess with Active-X.

For those insisting on using Internet Explorer all the time, consider keeping internet shortcuts off My-computer or the Desktop, and permanantly blocking Windows "explorer.exe" from accessing the internet thru your firewall.

A good spyware tool should identify & remove malware set in the Windows start-up process, imbedded as IE helper apps, Host file fixes, and an IE immunize helper that blocks bad internet addresses in real time. I just updated Spybot Search & Destroy, and it found a trojan on my system earlier today.

Perhaps the most important deterrent against ID thieves remains a healthy intolerance toward sharing personal information, using aliases for sweepstakes, warranty's, registrations, etc., and a cross-cutting shredder for any disposed records with account numbers, addresses, or financial data.

Roger Ramjet
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