SAN YO XACTI VPC-
CG65: The compact-
ness of this camcorder
and the extreme ease
of uploading video files
can change your whole
attitude toward making
OPENOFFICE: Can it
in every detail? Indeed
into a bag or backpack and use it with the same
spontaneity as a digital camera.
Despite its tiny size, the camera’s thumb-operated buttons are easy to use and intuitively laid
out. You can record more than an hour of highest-quality video on an 8GB SD card, and snap individual
5-megapixel pictures along the way. An HD version
is available, but for regular 640×480 video the VPC-
CG65 retails for well under $400.
conventional menus on the deranged theory that
this will somehow make everything “simpler,” maybe
it’s time to uninstall your MSware and embrace
the open source alternative. OpenOffice runs under
Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and even Solaris (it’s
Sun-sponsored software, after all).
The massive downloadable package includes
Calc (bearing an eerie resemblance to Excel), Writer
(much like Word), Base (oddly similar to Access),
Impress (like PowerPoint), and more. Some entrepreneurs on eBay will try to charge you a fee for
these downloads, but you’d be foolish to pay even
$4.99 to such opportunists. Just go to openoffice.org.
OpenOffice can’t help you if you want to use FTP
to upload data to a distant server hosting your web
page, but another open source utility can handle
that: a quarter-million people have downloaded
WinSCP version 4, even though they would be hard
pressed to pronounce its name. This freeware has
an easy drag-and-drop interface, and the code
seems stable. The only snag is that WinSCP runs
solely on Windows.
Many people feel uneasy about downloading
software online, but if you choose it selectively,
it can be a very valuable alternative.
GETTING MORE THAN YOU PAY FOR
Software to create digital arts and crafts can be
hideously expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. In
fact, some powerful programs are completely free
— and they won’t crash unexpectedly or bring
malware onto your hard drive.
First and most basically, if you wince at the
thought of paying a couple hundred dollars for
Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, then Sun Microsystems
feels your pain — and is happy to alleviate it with
their open source office suite, OpenOffice.
Can it really emulate Microsoftware in every
little detail? Indeed it can. Are the files really, truly
compatible? So far as we can tell, they are. If you’ve
recoiled in horror from the nightmare of Word 2007,
which has taken the bizarre step of eradicating