Thursday, February 01, 2007

In the shadow of Vista: Office 2007

Now that the Microsoft Vista's over-hyped launch has appropriately fizzled, looked at the companion Office 2007 and has the following report, admired for its brevity:

"The good: Previously hard-to-find features now easier to explore; Word embraces basic desktop publishing tools; Excel formulas are easier to reference; PowerPoint presentations are more attractive; Outlook improves task and time management; improved integration throughout the applications; smaller application and file sizes; new file formats are easier to salvage if corrupted; document security is more straightforward.

The bad: Drastic design changes demand a steep learning curve if you're upgrading; new interface isn't always intuitive; contextual tabs and style galleries can be distracting; users of Office 2000 through 2003 must install converters to open Office 2007 files; no easy way to save work to the Web."

If you are using Office 2000 or 2003, and happy with it, there's no need to chase after this new version. But if you're in the market for an update from Office 97, or want to purchase individual components, focus on the 'good' as shown above, and conquer the bad by learning about the new features. Absent a way to save work to the web, you might also want a good web editing program. Let me know if you need help along the way.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

When a blogger types in China...

Last week, I made a presentation to a writer's group about blogs: their immediacy, their impact, and the pleasures of a space on the web where writers like me can post brief essays about any topics of interest at any time.

I doubt there were any skeptics in the audience after my presentation, based on all the positive feedback I've received. If there were, today's Chicago Tribune rather proves my point about the efficacy of blogs.

On Page One in the Sunday Tribune there's an article by Evan Osnos, a Tribune foreign correspondent :

"Chinese blogger's crusade has Starbucks feeling heat"

The blogger, Rui Chenggang, a television anchorman, believes Starbucks should withdraw it's shop from the 600-year-old majestic palace complex in the Forbidden City as a sign of cultural respect.

As a result of the blogger's campaign, palace authorities are weighing the issue, and thousands of Internet users are visitings Rui's blog. China has 20 million bloggers and 137 million web users, according to the article, which states: "With few other ways to protest within China, consumers see the web as a raucous town square."

News of this blogger's efforts have spread to CNN, MSNBC, News, Technorati - the blog search engine, and probably Starbucks headquarters too.

I'm unable to link to Chenggang''s blog for you, because it's written in Chinese. Our insular American web browsers generally can't display Chinese characters, but you can find out more by looking up his name at or

Vista Lust?

Okay, Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, launches at midnight tomorrow. Isn't that a lot of hoopla for an operating system? Sit tight if you can fight the desire for Vista. Your computer would need more memory, a bigger hard drive, a faster processer, new graphics card, and a DVD drive just to load it. Plus, many peripherals such as printers, backup systems and digital cameras won't work on Vista without udpated software.

If you don't believe me, here's the viewpoint from The Chicago Tribune's Jim Coates today. He's everyone's favorite print columnist and he says:

"... and many experts are telling their clients (correctly, I think) to stick with Windows XP until their next machine. This is because much of Vista focuses on ease of use and beautiful displays one can get by without for a while."