Productivity, technology, Web Development

Google Docs Vs. Microsoft Word – Should You Make The Switch?

Recently I read a great article by Charles Cooper – regarding giving up Microsoft Word in favor of Google Docs. I was a little stunned at first because to be honest with you the thought never even crossed my mind. I had no idea that I could viably use Google Docs as a competent alternative. But me, always being curious, I wanted to try it out. I decided to write this post in Google Docs and see if I could format and post it without any prior knowledge or tutorials.

First off, I Ioved the dictionary feature under tool. This is so useful when you’re trying to think of new ways to say something and don’t want to make a fool of yourself in the process. I was impressed that my document was saved immediately and also sent to my docs folder without any prompting which means even if I forget its taken care of and I can access it anywhere (especially key if your multitasking like most of us do). I also liked the fact that you can download the document into different formats right from the file menu which means that you can make a copy for OpenOffice, PDF, or Word. I found this especially useful because I have OpenOffice on my laptop. Of course it goes without saying that you can email your document directly to the web or email collaborators right on the main menu.

Actually everything seemed pretty intuitive from the main window and I was able to write and edit my document with ease. I did eventually do a search for a good tutorial. Here’s what I came up with:

I have to say that I liked the overall experience. I’m sure I wont give up Word immediately since you have to be online to use Google Docs but it was easy to use and will definitely work in a pinch for documents, spreadsheets, and other duties that you want to share right away and get feedback. If your online anyway – why not.

Bonus: now you can view your files offline in Chrome!

 

Do you use Google Docs regularly and have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

Photos, Productivity, technology, video

Free Programs That Can Make Your Life Easier

Everyday I come across tons of free programs that can definitely make your life easier if you have the patience to learn how to use them. Having a computer background I often wonder how easy these programs would actually be for someone who might not have the time to learn an extensive program with a lot of bells and whistles. I came across 2 that are very easy to use right away but offer tons of great features that you can discover at your own pace.

Open Office

This program is like a free version of Microsoft Office with all the same features that you would pay hundreds of dollars for. You can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations very quickly. I tried this one out a couple of months ago because I wanted a doc editing program for my laptop that I could use on the go. Without reading any of the tutorials I was able to create a document in about 5 minutes and save it into my docs folder. I don’t use spreadsheets very often but I was able to create a simple table in about 10 minutes. I honestly thought that there would be a major learning curve here but if you know anything about Microsoft Office this wont be a painful switch at all. The only thing that I had to remember was to save my file to a .doc format so that I could read it in Microsoft Office on my desktop. Here is an example of Open Office:

 

Gimp

Gimp is the closest free program that I have found to Photoshop. There is a download available for Macintosh as well (http://www.gimp.org/macintosh/ ). Gimp lets you do simple photo alterations, create web pages and brochures, as well as draw and paint with text just as easily as Photoshop without the major expense. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but I was able to put together a simple one-page brochure in about 30 minutes my first time using it. There are also numerous tutorials available on line and at Gimps official website to get you up to speed fairly quickly. Then you can take your time becoming a pro. I’m sure I will be using this one a lot more often since I realized how extensive the program actually is. It’s definitely worth the effort of learning. A quick review of of Gimp:

Do you know of any other free programs that are fairly easy to learn? Please share them with me.