I think the best part of this book is simply that it might induce a bunch of people who would have never considered freeware to take a hard look at so...moreI think the best part of this book is simply that it might induce a bunch of people who would have never considered freeware to take a hard look at some of the products out there, all legit and all free.
The downside is that no book can keep up with how things change; some of the products on the list may or may not now be the best choice, and one product the author praised seems to be a whole different beast than it was when this book was published..
→ Now that Oracle bought Sun Microsystems it seems that a lot of the people involved in OpenOffice.org have moved onto LibreOffice. I honestly have no idea which one is better than the other, but its something somebody looking at freeware might want to investigate. Both are freeware, both are easily downloadable, etc.
→ I personally find GIMP a bear to use, as in VERY confusing with documentation that doesn't seem to match what you see on-screeen. Doubtless I'm not the adept the author is, but to my mind it is the kind of program you better block out a whole day or better yet a weekend to pound into your head what button does what and why. (I'm not talking becoming an expert, either. Just a competent user. And no, I've not yet taken my own advice. :) ) But it seemed to this user the author understated how hard it can be to understand.
→ Cobian used to be written in an open source language. It no longer is, for no reason I can figure. Even though it is still freeware, if the people behind it decide to start charging for the product, where does that leave you? (I'm honestly not sure, maybe you just don't bother with upgrades?) Still, there's something funny about a switch like that.
Also, the reviews I've read of Cobian are all over the place. Might be a meaningless tidbit, or maybe I'm a girly man, but when I start seeing all reviews as either five star or one star I'd really like to know what the heck is going on here.
→ He should've made a general pronouncement somewhere that the biggest "downside" to freeware is the simple fact that product documentation can range from pretty good (OpenOfffice.org) to downright non-existent/indecipherable as with Gnucash. Granted that wasn't a product he recommended, but it is pretty darn good...until you try to figure out how to do something a bit out of the usual.
I guess I appreciate the effort that went into the book, but I strongly suggest anyone looking poke around a bit before taking his recommendations.
Quite frankly I found this work exceedingly hard to follow, perhaps because my unfamiliarity with Access put a great many things "over my head," but I...moreQuite frankly I found this work exceedingly hard to follow, perhaps because my unfamiliarity with Access put a great many things "over my head," but I don't see how anyone can say the material is particularly well organized. As an example, the section relating to append queries also involved a detailed explanation of how to import data from an Excel file. To my mind this resulted in a jumble, where neither topic was explained clearly and almost seemed to interfere, one with the other.The book also began with an overview of reports and forms and then shifted back to queries. Huh? There's better books out there than this one, but if you're stuck with it you can probably figure out what you need. Just expect a fair amount of confusion, potty-mouthing and fist to desk pounding along the way.(less)
Some interesting tidbits in this one, particularly about how to set up you desktop more efficiently. Also on using and formatting for viewing Microsof...moreSome interesting tidbits in this one, particularly about how to set up you desktop more efficiently. Also on using and formatting for viewing Microsoft Explorer (the folder display thingy, not the browser.)
I must admit I became hopelessly confused with anything having to do with backups and restores, possibly not Leonhard's fault since Vista offers several different software packages -- entirely different -- that do basically the same thing. But he also seemed to scramble each type of software together, I honestly see no reason he could not have presented each separately, after defining and describing the generic terms.
And since he did present a chapter on Firefox, indeed recommends it as superior to IE in most cases, I can only think the omission of the Adblock add-in as a triumph of personal self-interest over REALLY wanting to save users time. Also, for storing passwords there's LastPass, for free vs. some product I'd never heard of before that costs $50. Maybe neither existed when the book went to press?
And I freely admit I skipped all the chapters on fiddling with the registry. I just don't consider myself up to messing with stuff like that.
Extra star for the humorous tone taken throughout, and for his willingness to both praise and criticize Microsoft as he considered it appropriate. (less)
Jarivs makes a fairly strong case for the Internet as an exciting whiz-bang tool for change, with Google as his shining avatar for the changes coming....moreJarivs makes a fairly strong case for the Internet as an exciting whiz-bang tool for change, with Google as his shining avatar for the changes coming. Except when it isn't, as with their secrecy about their server farms. Or how the "anti-Google" (I believe that was his term) Apple can break all the rules and still find success. He might be right, he might not be, but his constant honking on advertising driven doo-dads on every site around to pay for all this free content is a concept that, at a minimum, the jury is still out on. And, of course, (shhhh) no mention anywhere of ad-blocking software.
Perhaps a bit of a "straw man" attack to accuse him of utopianism, but there's a whiff of it there, certainly. He also seems to blow through some topics that I'd personally find interesting, like how these companies get their start, their financing and finally how -- to date -- you can say they are profitable or not. Yes, they're briefly mentioned, but measured in sentences not paragraphs.(less)