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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Great Software Finds

Oscar Foulkes June 17, 2010 My Little Black Book No comments

Leaving the secure embrace of full-time employment at Cloof in December last year had a number of implications. One of the most significant was the need to get my own laptop. I really, really badly wanted a Mac, but it was going to cost about R6000 more than a Windows machine.

The first consideration was the Microsoft Office suite of software, which was an additional R1500 (or thereabouts) on the initially lower cost of the PC, but I got myself a quarter of the way to justifying the Mac purchase by downloading Open Office (for free!).

The first complaint non-users make about Open Office is that it’s not compatible with Word or Excel. That’s only partially true. However, Open Office offers the opportunity of saving files in numerous different formats, which makes it perfectly compatible with Microsoft (and other) products. And, Open Office comprises spreadsheets, text documents, presentations, databases and drawing, which means you’re getting a lot more functionality than you’d get from Microsoft Office.

I’m delighted with this ‘purchase’ (donations to Open Office are encouraged, but not obligatory).

The next consideration was the contact management software – GoldMine – that I had used for about ten years. For an admin-averse person like myself, the way that such software automatically files in- and outgoing emails (linked to relevant contacts) is indispensible. However, I was staring down the barrel of a R5000 cost to bring myself up to the latest version.

I was able to find a similar tool (available for Mac only), the Daylite Productivity Suite, at less than a third of the cost of Goldmine. Much of the functionality is based around team-based activities, which I haven’t used much, but I can see how useful it could be. Once again, I’m delighted with the purchase.

The Daylite marketing blurb claims that companies have switched to Mac, just so that they can use Daylite. In my case, the combination of Daylite and (free) Open Office enabled me to get onto Mac in the first place.

I’ve loved using my MacBook Pro. It boots up in a flash, the battery lasts forever, and the functionality is generally quite intuitive. The only problems? There isn’t a Mac version of Nokia’s PCSuite, which basically ensures that Nokia is going to lose the smart phone battle. And, I can’t print to network printers on Windows networks. Neither of these is a deal-breaker, as far as I’m concerned.

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