A Choice of Simple Tools

My primary requirement for a tool is that it stay out of my way. Ok, so maybe that is requirement number two, right after the requirement of the tool fulfilling its purpose. But honestly, if a tool can perform its required function then the next most important characteristic for me is that it be as non-obtrusive as possible. This applies to simple tools like screwdrivers and hammers as well as more complex tools such as computers and their software.

Simplicity ToolsWhen I pick up a hammer I expect it to be able to drive a nail into a board. I do not need it to have a compass to guide the way or a light to illuminate the path. Such things would only add needless complexity to the device and would thus get in my way. It is the simplicity of the device that makes it both useful and appropriate. The same goes for a screwdriver. Multiple attachments, lights in the body, and fancy sheathing may sound attractive at first, but when I am trying to get a job done those added complexities could actually make the job more difficult. The beauty of simplicity is that it represents just enough. Just enough to accomplish the work – not too little so that you require more time or tools, and not too much so that extra effort is expended.

This simplicity is also how I choose software. I am an Apple fan; there is no doubt about that. But I am an Apple fan for a reason. I will not deny, not in the least, that Windows and Linux may be immensely more configurable than Mac OSX. But that configurability adds a level of complexity that I find in no way necessary. That configurability actually gets in my way. I feel the same way about the Android mobile operating system versus IOS.

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A Look at a Online Word Processors

More and more I find that ideas occur to me and the need to write calls to me when I am on a computer, but not necessarily my main personal machine. What all of the machines I might be sitting at have though is a web browser. From there I can check my main, search the Internet, and most importantly, access a web based word processor. There are quite a few options when it comes to web based writing, and I decided to take a look at the major ones so I could find the one most suited to my needs.

Writing In The CloudsFirst though we need to mention the machine-based Microsoft Word. Yes, I know that the native MS Word is not an online tool, but let’s face it, Word is the standard. I am not going to say it is the best or the brightest, but it is the word processor that almost all people cut their teeth on. Because it is what we learned on, and because it is the industry standard for document submission, and because most people have a copy of it already on the computer, like it or not Word is what we judge everything else from. Sure I would love to turn off 90% of it off for my daily use, but when I need those extra features it is really nice to have them around. So this is what we will be judging against.

Word in Office 365 Online

Since this is a much different product to MS Word that runs directly on the machine, I wanted to test this out and see what is or isn’t available.  I really don’t care too much about all the layout tools because what I am trying to do is write, not do pretty publication.

The product looks very nice, but there are unfortunately a few features missing that are very important to me. I was about to say that word count was missing, but then I found it. It was just hiding down there in the bottom left corner. This is symptomatic of Microsoft – things you need are just too darn hidden. On the other hand, a grammar checker doesn’t exist. Some might not like having a program watch over their grammar for them, but I find it is very useful in catching wild misspellings and also pointing out some blatant wording blunders. I can always ignore it if I like, but I do like having it available. A spelling checker is available, but grammar is not.

There are headers and footers available, as well as page numbers, tables, images, hyperlinks, and all that stuff. However, none of that would I really use in my daily writing. But at least the features are there.

In operation it is actually quite comfortable to write in, and with the push of a button it will open my local copy of Word and I can keep on working.  And since the document is stored in my SkyDrive account that is synced up on my numerous computers, it is backed up and available everywhere. I can even use it on  my iPad. I will also say that to Microsoft’s credit the web-based writing is very fluid. I have not experienced any of the odd freezes or lags that I have seen in other software. Not bad. Not bad at all.

And now on to Google Apps.

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Ordered a Few Tools

I hadn’t realized until very recently, but Amazon.com will actually buy books back or take them in trade. I knew you could sell to other people through Amazon, but I didn’t realize that they themselves would take the books in on trade and give you credit. Very cool! So I did that. I went through … Read more

WordPress Version 3.0 Is Released

WordPress 3.0, the thirteenth major release of WordPress is now available for download. Major new features in this release include a great new default theme called Twenty Ten. Theme developers have new APIs that allow them to easily implement custom backgrounds, headers, shortlinks, menus (no more file editing), post types, and taxonomies. Make sure to … Read more