The value for money cult
As our culture dictates, most social events revolve around food.
As our gender dictates, social food preparation MUST be done over an open fire.
The earth turns. Men cook outside. That is just how it is. Rain, storms and biting cold weather is a bonus - a Darwinian device to separate the sissies from the real men.
Most of the usual suspects are of the married (or non-single) persuasion - hence our regular soiree takes place under female supervision...a UN Peacekeeping force of sorts.
The girls normally turn a blind eye to the shenanigans we guys get up to - after all the girls have the car keys, the wallet and the credit cards firmly in hand - so how much trouble can we really cause. I mean: cause them. They don't particularly care how much we bother each other: as long as there are no medical bills to pay.
So, normally there is a balance of power. Since the girls have both, they let us be. Until recently: The priest of the "value-for-money" cult spoke within earshot of the girls, about The Sushi Special.
The idiot. In his defence, and to be accurate, he spoke of a "drink-as-much-as-you-can" special, with some free sushi thrown in on the side.
The girls heard.
The girls Love sushi. The capital 'L' is intentional.
As every married man knows: keep her happy or suffer. Suffer unpleasant consequences. For an indeterminate time.
It was a no-brainer: the very next Tuesday night we were at the Sushi bar. The girls were doing their own thing and I was being recruited for the "value-for-money" cult by the very same (idiot) priest who landed us there in the first place.
In broad strokes, the cult induction centred around the imperative that we eat as mush sushi as was humanly possible. The restaurant we were at was running a special where, for R150.00, you could eat as much Sushi as you want and drink as much wine as you wanted. This was what the priest called, repeatedly and with great reverence, "Value."
"Eat and drink as much as you WANT" is only two glasses of wine away from "eat and drink as much as you...CAN".
As the evening progressed, the priest's arguments became more and more lucid and compelling. Everything made perfect sense. This was Nobel prize stuff. The man was a genius.
We concluded that value (for money) implies that the value is greater than the cost, and value is related to your requirements and the conformance thereto. Or something like that. Point was, we agreed, that a) we were having a wonderful time and b) we could never have such a wonderful time at a hamburger and coke special.
We were trying to polish a new definition of "value" when, mid-sentence, Jens fell of his chair.
He hit the ground like a ping pong ball and bounced back into his chair almost faster than the eye could see. I pretended not to notice, although sitting 30cm away from him I could hardly miss a 100kg guy unceremoniously falling off his chair for no apparent reason.
After a few minutes of quiet meditation, staring at the counter, he remarked sullenly: "that was un-value." He pushed the glass of wine away.
I knew if I started grinning or made eye contact, I'd laugh myself off my chair too, and that would definitely be un-value. So, miraculously, I kept a straight face - by biting my lip and staring at the bar counter.
We agreed to keep the incident between ourselves.
Open Office 3
Anyway, back to the point of this post:
When I saw Open Office 3 is now ready for download, and considering it is free, I wondered if it was really value...I mean: could using it make you fall off your proverbial chair?
To help you decide, here is a bit of background: Open Office 3 is a suite (group) of general productivity software programs. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool and a database manager.
It is as free as rain to download and use.
(If you are using an illegal copy of Microsoft office ANYONE can report privacy anonymously with the BSA and claim a 10% reward - up to a maximum of R 100 000. See here for details: http://w3.bsa.org/southafrica/report/index.cfm) Un-value.
Apart from the fact that using pirated software is criminal, most people use less than 1% of the capabilities of a massive product like Microsoft Office. To make matters worse, Microsoft re-invents the software every few years - you end up with a moving target and perpetual upgrade costs.
Microsoft Office is a brilliant application. As a programmer, I think Excel is probably one of the most brilliant pieces of software engineering I've seen. If you are planning a trip to Mars, plotting global economic trends or doing a forensic audit on the South African Arms deal, then you need Excel. If you are writing books, merging letters or write press releases for Julias Malema - then you need MS Word.
As far as office productivity suits go, Microsoft Office is a bulldozer with a cockpit of a 747.
Open Office 3 is less than a bulldozer. It fits in around the level of a Hilux bakkie. Perfectly practical for most of us.
Open Office is file compatible with Microsoft Office - that means that you can read and write documents created with MS word or MS Excel. (Note: MS Office 2007 changed their file formats so even previous versions of Microsoft's OWN software won't be able to read the new formats!)
This (file format) issue is becoming more of a problem for everyone - how can we have a digital society when the data you created as recently as 5 years ago cannot be "understood" by the software you use today? To help solve the current and future compatibility problems the EU adopted the "Open Document Format": This is a public domain spec for storing word processor, spreadsheet and presentation data. Open Office supports this format right out of the box. Microsoft Office does not.
Open Office also includes excellent support for creating and editing pdf files - perfect if you need to publish formatted info (eg spec sheets or product info) online or in emails...and a host of other features you should check out personally.
Open Office runs on Windows XP, Vista, Mac, Linux.
And did I mention it is free?
"Real value!", as the priest would say.
If you visit the web site at (http://www.openoffice.org/) to download a copy, you will notice that the site is swamped with the demand for this product. Either be patient or wait until the weekend when less traffic will make the site faster.
(If you are in South Africa, use this alternate link: http://openoffice.mirror.ac.za. Select "Stable", then "3.0.0", and then the version you require (Windows users will pick "...Win32Intel_install_en-us.exe"). Note that this is a 128Mb download.)