I’ve been considering writing a techno type homeschooling post for some time now. Many of you know that I’m a tech junkie. I use my computer ALL the time, I download books and programs, scrapbook on my computer, Facebook, Twitter, blog, and much more.
I’ve been facing a hard reality lately though. I bought a new computer in January. It’s a super-duper Gateway FX Series gaming laptop with a jumbo screen and all that good stuff. Portable, it is not. Not really, anyway. It does, however, have a killer amount of RAM, a huge hard drive, and one of the best graphics cards out there, which is exactly what I need to run Photoshop.
But the hard reality? This fancy dancy new computer is all top notch and everything, but most of my programs… are… old… I have run into little glitches with Photoshop (my workspace disappearing at random times?) , and Acrobat Pro 8 (unable to convert doc’s to PDF). Even MS Office 2003 does weird stuff sometimes. Investigation shows that these programs aren’t designed to work on a 64-bit system. Aha! Oh wait… AHAH$$$$$$$$$. Oh yes, lotza money is lined up to leave my bank to replace all of these programs which aren’t working.
I MUST have a PDF converter. I MUST have Photoshop to work with. I MUST have a word processing program to do all the stuff I do!
A few solutions, and they are FREE:
OpenOffice: A free office suite of programs, very similar to the piggish and overpriced MS Office suite. I downloaded it today, and got it up and running. And it turns out that it has a built-in PDF converter (BONUS!) so I don’t have to buy Foxit Software’s PDF Creator, which I was planning on doing TODAY. I tried the converter in OO and it works GREAT. Better than $239 for Office 2007!
Foxit Reader: This is for opening and viewing PDF documents, such as the hundreds of ebooks that I have already living on my computer. 🙂 I’ve used this for a few years already. It’s a small program, downloads quickly, installs in a tiny fraction of the time it takes to get Acrobat or Acrobat Reader installed, and opens PDFs lightening FAST. And it’s FREE.
Foxit PDF Page Organizer: This is a PDF Organizer that allows you to cut pages from an existing document, or take multiple PDF doc’s and merge them into one. This one isn’t free, but at $59 it still blows away the cost of buying Adobe Acrobat by several hundred dollar$. I need this because I go through my downloaded school ebooks and I delete all of the blank scanned pages that always seem to precede and come after the main text of the books. And while I wish I were being paid for promoting Foxit’s program, I’m not. Someone should tell them that I should be paid. 😀 I am very impressed with their programs and definitely recommend them to anyone! Their licenses include commercial, so if you operate a small home business you can buy the standard program and you’re covered… you won’t be in violation of any of their tech-rules about that.
GIMP: The Gnu Image Manipulation Program, another free, open-source application that is promising some big things and from what I am reading, much is possible with it. As my Photoshop CS2 becomes more and more dated, I am beginning to think I may have to make the switch. I don’t know enough about it yet to make a solid recommendation, except that the menues and palettes look similar but open in separate windows, and that I have heard that you can use Photoshop Actions in Gimp. I don’t have it downloaded on my laptop yet, but I did install it on our 32-bit PC and it seems to be a functional program. I guess I’ll have to just install it here and see how it puts together a layout for me. For digital scrapbooking, it may be a worthwhile investigation, considering that upgrading my CS2 Suite to CS4 will cost me around $1000. Note: 11/23/09 I gave up on GIMP and purchased Photoshop Elements 8 for $70 at Costco. VERY functional, VERY affordable, and VERY easy to use!!