Regular readers of this column know that one of my favorite kinds of software is “free” software, whether it’s for a desktop PC or an iPad or a smart phone. By” free” I mean literally, not trial software or membership based, but just plain free. This week I want to recommend one free productivity suite for your PC and a great free app for your smart phones.
Everybody knows that if you want to create text documents, spreadsheets, or presentations the software of choice throughout the world in education circles and in businesses is the Office Suite from Microsoft. Depending on which version you choose it includes all the programs I’ve listed and a database program and some other specialty programs like MS Publisher and Outlook. Recent significant upgrade versions include 2000, 2003 and 2007. I highly recommend these Office Suites, but not everyone can afford them and many only use a portion of the package that they purchase. There are a number of cheaper alternatives out there, but the one I’m recommending today is LibreOffice (users of OpenOffice.org will see similarities, based on common source code). By the way, if you are already using OpenOffic.org, happily, you may want to stay with it.
LibreOffice is a completely free download that includes a full complement of office programs. The “Writer” program is a full fledged word processor that can produce documents compatible with MS Word. “Calc” is a spreadsheet program compatible with MS Excel. LibreOffice also comes with a PDF file creator so that you can produce documents that can be opened and read almost universally. Another nice thing about LibreOffice is that updates are free and it’s available for both PC and MAC users.
One great free app for your phone (all major phone platforms) is Key Ring. If you are a shopper with a wallet full of rewards cards, you’ll love the way Key Ring helps you organize them and keep up with current offers from your favorite retailers. You can even put your Do Co Library card on the Key Ring. You use the app itself (along with your phone’s camera) to scan the card’s bar code into your phone, identify the retailer and display the bar code from your phone at checkout. Some of the retailer’s even push their coupons to the Key Ring, so you don’t have to fumble through your wallet for those (expired coupons won’t be listed). A few of the participating retailer’s in our area include Staple’s, Stein-mart, CVS, Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Big lots and Old Navy. I did not find any participating local restaurants in a brief Internet search, but that category sounds like an obvious opportunity to me. There are more than 650 retailers listed with Key Ring; if you know of any other notable local ones, please send to my email.
Let me hear about your favorite freebies and till next week, send your questions to: