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NH Dave Tech: free Word, etc. alternatives? (9) RE: Tech: free Word, etc. alternatives? 09 Sep 06

I heartily recommend Open Office, since it will open and run all of the MS Office developed files except for Access. OO has its own database program, but it just doesn't do some relational database files like Access files. If you are not interested in generating large relational databases*, OO's database manager will work very well.

Other than this, I recommend Mozilla's Thunderbird and Firefox, two open source improvements on the pre-AOL Netscape program, for EMail and Web browsing. Each works independently of the other, but also allow you to click on a URL in the EMail client, to open up the associaated web page in the Web browser. Additionally, Firefox supports and allows RoboForm and Google toolbars, which allow you to automate your bookmarks, logging in to various secure pages, and right-now searches through Google, without having to go to the Google page to accomplish the search.

I also recommend Foxit's Foxit Reader program which allows you to open Adobe .pdf files, like forms and the like, fill them in while on your computer, and then print out the form you just filled it. This is very handy if you or your company uses a lot of forms that are available as .pdf files, yet you want to fill them in on your computer.

URL's for the programs I've recommended are as follows: Open Office, Mozilla Firefox, and Thunderbird and Foxit Reader. You will note that these programs are avilable for various platforms and operating systems, and that although the companies may offer other programs with additional features for a fee, at least one of the company's programs is available for free.


* Relational Databases strive to enter a single bit of information once and only once. Thus if you were doing an address book, a person's name, street address, and a character or number corresponding to his city, state, and other common information like hobby or specific interest would be in one file; a second file would contain an index number for each city, state, and possibly ZIP Code, while additional files would contain additional bits of information, all related back to the original file by index numbers in the original file and additional files. When the program looks up Aunt Betty, it will read along her initial file until it gets to the first related field, pick this up from the file containing this bit of information, and go on to the next related bit of information. Relational Databases can be much smaller, since you try to only enter a single piece of information once, but they require proprietary programs to extract the information contained therein. Flat File Databases, on the other hand, contain a complete set of information for each person you have in your address file. Thus one "form" for Aunt Betty will contain every possible information that you consider relative about her; address, phone number, hobbies, pet's names, favorite recipe, and on and on ad nauseum. Since you will be duplicating information across entries, these databases can get huge, fast, but can usually be read by any text editor or reader.

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