Alternatives to MS Office

Microsoft Office is considered the industry standard for documents.  With MS Office you can utilize word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and even desktop publishing.  While it is a great platform, it can be costly and not everyone likes the interface or the included costs.  In the latest version of Windows, you can actually connect to even more items around the kitchen, like the fridge, toaster, and food processor. It’s important that college students and small business owners know about their options.  There are several types of office applications that are available for free that can do everything MS Office can do.

By choosing open source office software, you can say goodbye to the huge purchase prices and licensing fees.  Best of all, most of these platforms support all of the common document file types, including MS Office file formats.  They also offer all of the basics such as word processing and spreadsheets, and some of the alternatives offer even more applications such as drawing applications, database tools and even storage options.

There are many options out there for anyone who is ready to retire their MS office.  Below, I give an overview of two of the more popular alternatives.

Google Docs

Google Docs allows you to create, save, collaborate and share right online.  Anyone with a Google account can use Google Docs.  Google offers documents, spreadsheets and presentations which are all stored on the cloud-based storage service Google Drive.  Google’s online word processor allows you to create and edit text documents.  You can collaborate or share your documents with people that you’ve given access to; they can edit, comment or view depending on the permissions you allow them.  The best part is that Google Docs can be downloaded as Word, Open Office, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip files.  Google also offers spread sheets, presentations, drawings, and forms and integrates with many other Google services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and G+.

Open Office

Apache Open Office provides tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases.   It will allow you to save documents in the Open Document format, read Microsoft Word documents, and save your work in Microsoft Word format.

The full version of Apache Open Office suite includes six tools for managing office tasks:
·         Writer- The Open Office word processor
·         Calc- The Open Office spreadsheet application
·         Draw- Image application
·         Base-  Used to create and modify tables and forms
·         Math- An application for creating mathematical equations

These are just two of the more popular alternatives for MS Office.  There are many other free options out there including Libre Office, Kingsoft Office, and Zoho Docs.

Do a little bit of research online and find the perfect open source office application to fit your needs.  Whether you’re a business owner or a student, there are free options out there for you.

How MS Office Can Help with Party Planning

The best parties don’t just magically happen. Sure, they may seem effortless, and the host would like to make it seem that way, but that is not the whole picture.

That’s because behind every good social gathering – be it a cookout in front of your smoker from Charcoal Smokers – Smoky Goodness Barbecue or a simple birthday gathering – good party planning is the key to success.

One crucial area of planning for any party is well organised invite letters, flyers and cards. Usually, this crucial but laborious task is a pain, but that needn’t be the case. MS Office is here to help you. More specifically, Mail Merge can make this process simple and, dare I say, truly effortless.

What is Mail Merge?

Mail Merge is a handy feature of MS Office which lets you create a set of documents that are essentially the same but where each document contains unique elements. For example, in a business letter that announces new company policy, your company logo and the text about the product will appear in each letter, but the address and greeting line will be different in each letter.

But if you are party planning you don’t need to concern yourself with business letters, obviously. So if, for example, SmokyGoodnessBBQ.com – Chicken is on the menu at your wedding reception, you can create batches of food menu cards for all the guests, as well as invite letters, flyers, or thank you cards. But more on this later.

You can also create a set of form letters, e-mail messages, or faxes where the basic content is the same in all the documents, but each contains information that is specific to the individual recipient, such as name, address, or some other personal information.

How does it work?

It is quite simple. If you have an older version of MS Office, click on the Tools menu, then click Letters and Mailings, and then click Mail Merge Wizard. If you own Microsoft Office Word 2007 or versions onward of that, click on the Mailings tab, click Start Mail Merge, and then click Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard.

Now you have to choose the document type. If, for example, you want to create those invite letters to party guests, in the Mail Merge task pane, simply click Letters. So now you can send letters to a group of people and personalize the results of the letter that each person receives. After selecting whether you want to use a Word template as the main letter document, you are asked to select the recipients.

This is achieved by asking the program to use a specific set of variable information for your merge. The quickest way in this case is to use names from a MS Outlook Contacts List. To do this, in the Mail Merge task pane, click Next: Select recipients and simply click Select from Outlook contacts.

You can also manually create a database of names if you don’t have party guests in your contact list. In this case, in the Mail Merge task pane, click Next: Select Recipients and click Type a new list and type in the details such as name and address.

More uses

Aside from invite letters for your party, Mail Merge is also ideal for the following.

Flyers – If your party is so big that you need to use Mail Merge to automate the production of invite letters to guests, you are probably going to be helped by creating personalised flyers en masse too. Each flyer can have a base of a simple image and text explaining what the deal is but with personalised addresses to different individuals or groups.

Thank You cards – There is nothing nicer and more courteous than thanking all your guests for attending your function at the end of the night. Handing out a generic ‘Thanks’ is lacking a little in etiquette, so use Mail Merge for personalised messages to each attendee.

Office Hygiene Tips You Should Consider

Hygiene is very important not only when you are socializing but for your own personal health reasons as well. When you work in an office chances are you may come across other people who enjoys picking on other employees whom they find are not aware of their own personal hygiene. You definitely don’t want to be the one to be picked on, right? (Oh and don’t forget, hygiene is important for your health, not just your ego!)

You won’t be getting any bad feedback from any co-worker if you know how to take care of your personal hygiene. Here are few things that you may want to consider.

Oral Care

The first thing that people notice when you open your mouth in the morning is that unpleasant scent which we call morning breath. Nobody wants to talk to somebody who doesn’t even gargle mouth wash during the day or after meals. If you really are in a hurry, you can prepare a small bag where you can place oral care products in there such as your toothpaste, handy electric toothbrush or even a portable water flosser to help you with the hard to reach areas in your mouth. If you’re really stuck, picky, or need the best of the best, you can always find a huge array of toothpastes to take care of you, so don’t just go for the usual stuff at the drug store.

Skin and Body Care

The next thing you need to make sure is that your body is always clean and you smell good as well. Since you are working in an office chances are you may have contact to a variety of germs that may be passed on to you or to the members of your family when you come home. To avoid this, you will have to wash your hands and sanitize as frequent as you can to prevent contamination.

Taking a bath should as well be a habit before going to work. You should always feel fresh before going to the office. Everybody needs a fresh start and this will definitely make your day. Keeping your body clean will keep you away from possible body odor, which can as well be the talk of the town if not addressed immediately.

Tidying Up

Lastly, you should always look presentable. Wear neat clothes and tidy your hair everyday before you go to work. Chances are you may have to deal with various people throughout the day. If you are in sales, you definitely don’t want to lose a client just because you don’t look presentable enough to them.

These are just a few tips for you to consider when it comes to personal hygiene before going to work. Don’t let time prevent you from being the best of who you are. Always keep this in mind and people will definitely have fewer negative things to say about you! (Though it can’t be as bad as this story can it? Read more here: http://www.officeclippy.com/2014/08/dont-think-it-cant-happen-the-lost-software-developer/)

Don’t think it can’t happen: The lost software developer

It’s sad, but true. Even with the best intentions and seemingly most sound plan, issues can arise during immigration, and generally at the worst time possible.

We’ve heard the story of one man who had immigrated to Canada and landed himself a great job in web development. He was offered a 2 year contract at this company, and everything was going better than planned. He had settled into a new city, made friends, become a regular at shops around town, and overall felt as though he was home at last in this new city. Even though everything was going as planned, he was one day faced with the news that he had not completed the proper paperwork to be able to work in Canada, and he would no longer be able to be employed at his company. He lost his 2 year contract and had to be deported back to his home country, losing everything he had gained in his new home. It’s devastating that this had to happen, and that it continues to happen to immigrants. Often they do not know the laws of working in a new country, though sometimes they do and just ignore them altogether (which really is their own fault).

So what should you do if you’re a new immigrant to ensure you don’t lose your jobs and the life you’ve settled into? The first and most important step is to get yourself an immigration lawyer. They will be there for you through the whole process of your immigration and help to ensure that every step you take is done properly. Before you get a job in a new country, you will have to get a work visa. Your lawyer will be a huge part of that and review all the necessary paperwork to make sure you can stay at your new job and in the country. If you end up wanting to claim citizenship, again, you will need a proper lawyer.

Finding jobs that relate to your field can be tough in a new country as well. Maybe you’re familiar with certain aspects of software that are only available in Europe for example, and now you’re introduced to those in America. It’s important to educate yourself and become familiar with new aspects of your profession. Besides looking for work using job postings and in-person application, you can utilize the availability of career centers, employment agencies, and your immigration lawyer. They are all educated in helping new citizens and residents find work in their career field, and you should not pass up the opportunity for assistance. It’s tougher out there than you may think. Keeping your lawyer in the loop with your job status is important, as mentioned before that they will assist you with proper paperwork and anything else you may need to ensure you’re safely employed as a new resident to the country.

Before you end up with a story like the man mentioned before, take the time and few extra dollars to find yourself a good immigration lawyer. It’s worth every second and every penny to ensure your safety and that of your family.

Video Editing Software Options

Whether you’re an up and coming video blogger on YouTube or you just want to make your family’s home videos snazzy, you’re going to need software that allows you to edit your videos.  There a lot of things to consider when choosing which software to use.  How much do you want to spend?

Are you looking for a simple program or do you want all the bells and whistles?  Are you planning on making movie quality videos with credits and music, or do you just need simple features to delete and splice?  And finally, what’s your video editing skill level?  Most programs are user friendly even for beginners, and others are complicated and geared towards experts.

Windows Movie Maker 2012 is a user friendly program that is super easy to use.  With drag and drop capability, special effects with a simple click, and the ability to upload your videos straight to YouTube of Facebook, this is a great video editor for beginners.

Video Pad Video Editor offers a free version of their software, but it is limited to non-commercial use.  If you’re a vlogger and your YouTube channel is monetized, I would suggest paying for the Video Pad’s software or using another product.  However, if you’re making videos just for fun, this is a great platform.  There are many effects and audio options.  Additionally, your videos can be uploaded to DVD format, shared online, and uploaded to smart phones and other devices.

Movie Edit Pro is an expensive program, but for the more professional and experienced video makers, this is a fantastic editor.  I would suggest this for those who vlog for a living and need their videos to look professional.  Movie Edit Pro has three options available which range in price from $69.99 to $129.99 Movie Edit Pro offers many features for editing and in some cases, has a beginner mode for those who are just learning.

Don’t want to spend a lot of money to edit your movies?  There are many free options available for video editing.  Many of these software programs have features that are user friendly for beginners and range from special effects to audio.  On the downside, many of the free software programs are limited in their capabilities.

There are also online editors that allow you to edit your videos without downloading software onto your computer.  We Video is a great editor that allows you to add effects to your videos and edit them right on the internet.  When you’re done, you can share your videos online with one simple click.

YouTube also offers an editing service which makes the entire process a snap.  Upload edit, and then simply publish your video.

There many options available; I couldn’t begin to touch upon all of them here.  There are many reviews online you can research that will compare different software side by side to allow you to choose which software you need based on your needs and what the software will enable you to do.

Whether you decide to go with online software, or a program that you download to computer; whether you’re looking for a free program or a more extensive one you pay for, be sure to do your research and keep in mind what features you’re looking for before you make any decisions.