Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Even though the virus didn't have a name and wasn't detected by three different up-to-date scanners, the Windows online scan worked admirably. Although it couldn't identify the virus nor remove it, it did say that a certain file was infected. I booted from my trusty Ultimate Boot CD, went to the file that was pointed out by the Windows Live OneCare Protection Center, deleted it, then replaced it with an empty file with the same name to prevent it being recreated. Voila! Virus-free computer.
Maybe Microsoft ain's so bad, after all. Oh yeah, if the customer were using Linux or OS X, none of this would have been necessary. But then again, if frogs had wings . . .
Thursday, November 09, 2006
First let me say this: the technicians that SBC employs to go on site and install or repair the wiring are top-notch. Always neatly dressed, they bear themselves professionally, work carefully, communicate well, and deliver what they promise.
The rest of SBC seems to have lost touch with this group's values. Salespeople seem to overpromise and underdeliver. In both examples that I have for customers, SBC promised DSL speeds starting at 384k and topping out at 1.2M. At one site, the service never, ever worked. At the other, 384k is top speed. 384k is fine for checking e-mail and reading the news, but downloading a 30 megabyte file takes 10 minutes. At most of my customers (which use cable, by the way) this download takes at most 2 minutes.
So site 1 never worked - but they paid for a months service that SBC says should have worked, but didn't. I checked and rechecked the internal wiring, and found it perfect. I moved the DSL modem to the demarcation point, and still no results. Calling SBC yielded the same pat answer - our automated tests show that the trouble is inside your building, so pay us a fortune to fix it, or have your technician (me) fix it. This seems to be to for the customers safety, but the representatives used it as a deterrent to the customers' persuing the issue further.
After the customer repeatedly called SBC, he reached a technician that knows me personally, and knows that I do quality work (Thanks, Tiny!), so he dispatched an SBC technician to the site. When the SBC tech arrived and hooked up his diagnostic machine, he informed the customer that DSL will never work there - the site is just too far from the central office to be any use. So then the customer is without Internet service for another month while we wait on Charter to deliver their service. Incidentally, the Charter service has worked quite well, with only minor hickups.
Site 2 is currently in the throes of a similar situation - the DSL is slow (support says we may be too far from the Central Office), and our supposedly static IP address has been anything but. When the customer called SBC Tech Support, we no longer reach a call center in America. Evey support rep has had an Indian accent - some more understandable than others. The customer says that the last one was consistently rude to her, and wouldn't even transfer her to his manager, saying that there is no manager for him to transfer her to. I'm going to go deal with this this morning.
So, the problems with SBC (AT&T) DSL that I perceive are:
- Sales reps are too generous and optimistic in their assessment of SBC's potential offerings to a given customer based on their distance from the Central Office.
- Support reps are all too eager to blame the customer, her equipment, and her premise wiring.
- Support reps tend to be rude.
- Support reps may not speak English as a first language.
Otherwise, I'm not sure. Cable seems like the obvious choice. Charter Communications is our local provider, and they have yet to disappoint me with respect to download speeds or service continuity. I've never reached a commercial support rep that didn't speak English as a first language, and they've always been professional, knowledgable, and polite. But the pricing is commensurate with the service - expect a 1.2M down with a static IP to cost at least $100 per month, while a DSL line may be half that.
Now, my other sites with DSL (a few in Saint Louis, Southern Illinois, and two in Indiana) have consistently high speeds (one, in Indianapolis, is an SBC customer) and seldom experience outtages. Why is Edwardsville prone to such failures in delivery?
So, if you live in Edwardsville, Illinois, the 1st question should of an SBC sales rep should be, "What is the length of the wire from the Central Office to my business?" If it's more than 10,000 feet or so, consider cable Internet instead.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Why? Well, Internet Explorer 7 is out and easily available - Firefox 2 came out at about the same time. Both feature tabbed browsing, but the newscaster was clearly using Firefox 2. In your face, Microsoft!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
The author cited Ubuntu as his favorite flavor of Linux, and said that there are too many flavors of Linux for the typical user to choose from - I agree. My own favorite flavor is Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), which retails for around $50.00US per year. Some vendors sell the desktop license for less if you download the operating system yourself. If you're cheap like me, OpenSuse is available for free, and has most of the same applications as SLED, but fewer bells and whistles - mainly regarding the user interface.
The most obvious example of the difference between OpenSuse and SLED is the multiple-desktop switching - OpenSuse switched from desktop to desktop with no transistion effects - its like changing the channel on the TV. SLED "flips" from desktop to desktop with an effect like a rotating cube - check out some screenshots here. Some folks dismiss this as mere "eye candy" - but the effect is profound. It gives the user a frame of reference that makes more sense than "virtual desktops" by giving more natural visual cues.
Despite the ease of installation (which I guess is as easy as Ubuntu), the author of the aforementioned ZDNET article is again quite correct in that once its installed, the typical user won't know what to do with it. SUSE make finding and installing new packages a snap with YAST (Yet Another System Tool), but it only finds the packages that Suse is distibuting. Overall, there are four different ways to install applications in Suse that come to mind - and most DON'T involve YAST. There is not typically a simple setup program that makes things go then drops a nice icon on your desktop. Note to developers: a nice ./install that takes care of the particulars on any given flavor of Linux would be nice, but is likely too much to ask.
Which brings me to the most important point about Linux and the free software movement: don't ask for much - this stuff is FREE, the developers are likely uncompensated, so they have little incentive to personally support their application like a for-profit outfit would. Can't figure out how to make a program run? Tough, RTFM (Read the freakin' manual) is the typical answer - and rightly so - you're lucky to have the program at all since you didn't have to write it yourself or pay a bunch of money for it. The average Windows user may spend a fortune on software during the lifetime of his computer compared to a Linux geek, but the time and frustration saved by the Windows user is usually worth it.
Linux is a labor of love.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Norton Internet Security 2006 was the worst resource hog, McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8 was the second worst, but Norton Internet Security 2007 seemed to have improved to the third worst resource hog. Trend Micro PC-cillin AV 2006 was the fourth worst resource hog . . .
Good thing I sell AVG - if you don't have it and want to get it, give me a call. Mention this ad, and I'll throw in a free container of anti-static screen wipes.
Oh my Gosh, I've got to try the Microsoft Memory Diagnostic Tool! This is an excellent alternative to the RAM test utility that I described a month or two ago. That one involved burning a CD or creating a boot floppy and then booting from it, well this one does too - nope, being an elite computer tech ain't easy.
And my life would not be complete without the Windows Command Line Port Scanner! For those not in the know, this means that Microsoft made a tool that can return information about itself and other computers' networking states and capabilities. Sound complicated? It's not! Imagine you can't get your mail from mail.yourmail.com and you're not sure that you have the right server - aim this tool at your mail server, let it rip, and see what services are really offered by that server.
The Windows Installer Cleanup Utility has saved my hide several times - this is useful when you uninstall an application, check, see that most if not all of it is gone, but still see its entry in the Add/Remove Programs dialog. I've gotten the most mileage out of this when confronted with HP All-In-One applications and drivers that won't reinstall after being uninstalled.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Originally, this was an involved process. Our friends at Sala Source made it easy. Download the patch from http://sala.pri.ee/?page_id=11, install it, reboot, and feel the joy. This is a HACK using a beta version of the terminal services software, so use it at your own risk.
Friday, September 08, 2006
- blue screens of death
- corrupted registry files (a good example of this is when you get the message: Windows XP could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM)
- unexplained spontaneous reboots
However, if you go to www.memtest86.com and download the latest zipped .iso (pronounced eezo), extract it, and burn it to a CD using your favorite .iso burning tool (mine's here), then boot off your new CD, you'll have a very reliable, easy to use diagnostic that will help you decide if indeed your RAM has bit the big one.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I know that some of you reading this can think of many instances where it is better that a third party not read your e-mail, either because it contains sensitive financial info or you need to share health information more freely.
How interested are you? Tell me via the comment button below. IThis is very inexpensive, using freely available tools. These same tools make it simple to get going, and even simpler to exchange e-mail in a safe and compliant manner.
If the feedback is positive, I'll devote my next blog entry to a step-by-step how-to.
Monday, July 24, 2006
My Firefox Web Browser version 126.96.36.199 passed every test but the "Drop Down" Popup, and the "Sticky" popup.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Enter CCleaner, which my friend Sue showed me a few weeks ago, claiming that it was recommended on Microsoft's web site, and saying that it was a wonderful tool. I was skeptical, but it was worth a try!
I downloaded it, installed it, and ran it, and, much to my delight, it works as advertised, cleaning up unused and unnecessary files, cleaning out and even repairing the registry, and fixing all sorts of irritating problems, including addind an add/remove programs that works better than the Microsoft Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Before you freak out and try putting this all together, check out this tutorial on getting OpenVPN to work with your IPCop. The Zerina VPN Plugin is beautifully made, thought not fully implemented, and makes ready-to-use .ovpn configuration files. It also makes and exports its own certificates, and lastly, and possibly the biggest headache it solves, it automatically configures client and server routes.
So now that you can remotely join your internal network, what will you do with it? 1st up, Windows Network browsing services won't work. If you have a DNS or WINS server on your internal network, point your TAP Interface's at one or both of these, and you'll be able to use your familier Network Neighborhood stuff. If these services are unavailable, then you're stuck using hosts IP addresses (ie \\192.168.0.20).
Beyond Windows File Sharing, most everything else should work through your shiny new Ecnrypted Tunnel without a hitch.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
For instance, it has a tabbed interface. It would benefit, instead, from multiple windows - the mixer/fx are on one tab, while the cueing, looping, and bpm controls are on others. This makes it painful to use, impacting the agility of a performer. That said, it can almost flawlessly sped up and slow down music without it sounding like its dragging or "chipmunked."
Thursday, May 11, 2006
If you need access to a local system (that is, you can lay your grubby little hands on it) that is not part of a Windows Domain, or you need local account for administration or repair purposes (like you need to work in safe mode without a network), the
Offline NT Password Reset and Registry Editor
Offers both boot floppies and boot CD's that allow you to clear the local administrator's password. This is of limited usefulness on an AD Domain Controller as it resets the Machine Account, and not the Domain Account, which is what a DC is interested in.
Unlocking NT/2000 Servers (Domain Controllers)
This set of directions are meant for the experts - but he makes it easy for just about anyone who's comfortable in front of a computer to follow. Requires physical access to a DC. Remember, any computer I can touch, I can own. This goes for most anybody else, too.
Resetting the Administrator's Password on a Windows 2003 Domain Controller
This is for Win2k3, but will likely work for Win2k also. It requires a bit of work and again, requires you can be in front of the server. Also requires a few more applications, which the author kindly provides links to.
If you use this info to gain access to stuff you shouldn't be accessing, or even just for general meanness, you can be fired, and even go to jail, which you would deserve.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about Macdesktops - although it purports to be for Macintosh's, and a lot of desktops are feature Apple logos and themes, the fact is that these are simple images that can be used on any computer desktop!
Once you're at the site, pick a category, find a picture you like, click on the desired resolution (most of my customers are either using 800x600 or 1024x768 - if you not sure, go with 1024x768!), then right-click on the image and choose "set as background." Now you have a new background!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
So I downloaded the 5 OpenSuse 10.0 CD's using BitTorrent - no FTP install this time, I can't stand to be without my lappy for three days. I then put the 5 CD's together on one DVD using Novell's Tutorial Making a DVD from CDs and installed it - the install was completely finished within three hours.
Free Linux Antivirus - Finally, an alternative to ClamAV!
Woohoo! My fave free antivirus for NONCOMMERCIAL use - Avast - has finally released a Linux version for home users. It looks like it has the least demands of any antivirus system with respect to dependancies, only requiring the GTK+ 2.x libraries if you want to use the graphical user interface. Oh, and they demand you register (its FREE!) if you want the required serial number.
Avast is also available for MS Windows - I prefer this one for home users due to the ease of use and nice interface. This one also demands free registration.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
A freely available desktop manager exists from none other than the MotherShip herself. It lacks the fullness of features that can be found in the imaginatively named:
for OS X (and supporting Tiger, and as an added bonus, working quite well on an Intel-based Powerbook, though I didn't check its status in the aforementioned Rosettatest) - this cool app has a half-dozen or so available transitions between pages, flexible ways to change screens, and many other cool features. Now if only I coluld assign a new desktop to each "virtual" desktop.
Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy. - Microsoft's description is as good as any. Unfortunately, this is all it does, and it offers no thumbnails of screens, and no nifty transitions. It works on XP, not 2k or 9x.
MS's description: With this PowerToy, in addition to seeing the icon of the application window you are switching to, you will also see a preview of the page. This helps particularly when multiple sessions of an application are open.I say: This has been around a while, and I wish MS would do more along the lines of these two power toys to innovate on the interface. This reminds me a bit of how OS X and other desktop managers use thumbnails to show you whats up - I use a hot corner in OS X to activate Expose's "All Windows" function - quickly filling my screen with clickable perfect little thumbs of my work.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Opera, the long time 3rd or 4th place browser (behind IE, Mozilla, and Safari) has released version 8.5, from which I am composing this blog on a Suse 10.0 machine. It is freely available, and is an excellent alternative to Internet Exploder if you're a Windows Weenie. However, Firefox is still my fave - Opera has some trouble rendering pages; for instance, the Blogspot web post editor is missing 90% of the buttons that I can use in Firefox on any platform - I'll check the Windows one and see how it behaves. Yup, identical results- web-based apps don't seem to render in Opera in either Linux or Windows.
Still in all, it has a good interface, and sports most of the features that make Firefox a good choice. Its nice to know that Mozilla and Microsoft aren't the only cross-platform browsing game in town!
Monday, April 10, 2006
That's not the only reason, however. Most of the cool apps that I know and love (NMap among them) are either a big pain to get running, or run slowly. The ones that run slowly, however, seem to run stably, and the slowness more tolerable once you convince yourself that its only temporary and that the developers of your app will make a free upgrade for Intel users. However, rumor has it that some developers are planning Intel support as a paid upgrade - that's right, some apps (like MS's Office suite) are going to charge for the upgraded version of their app, and the rumor didn't make it sound like it was going to have any new features or interface changes, it'll just be faster.
I'm willing to bet that the development of many current freeware and open sourc Mac apps will end as some developers may turn their attention elsewhere.
RosettaTest is a nifty app that resembles the "Force Quit Applications" applet in OS X, but it has a little red "R" on the corner af applications that are running under Rosetta, thus diagnosing the likely cause of the sluggishness of your application.
AbiWord is a nifty word processing app not too dissimilar from OpenOffice.org, but not requiring of X11 and only being a word processor, nothing more, nothing less. Abiword ran very well under Rosetta.
OpenOffice.org and NeoOffice
OpenOffice.org 2.0.x is nearing completion for Intel processors, and can be downloaded using the Intel and PPC based non-qa'ed Community Builds link. Remember, it requires X11, which can be installed using your OS X Tiger CD.
NeoOffice reportedly won't run on the Intel Mac, so I haven't even tried it. That being said, I've used it on a PPC, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Friday, March 31, 2006
In recent weeks, my work has reminded how fragile the ecosystem of our computers can be. Spyware, adware, viruses, worms, and trojans (all called malware) can all throw a computer into turmoil. It used to be just a Windows thing, and still pretty much is. Apple computers and machines running Linux would see the occasional malware, but most of them were just to prove that Linux and Mac users shouldn't get too comfortable, and were never released into the wild. Those that were enjoy little success as the *nix systems (Mac included) are inherently more secure as some actions necessary for the success of a virus require interaction from the user ie username and password as if to ask,"are you sure you want to do that?"
I'm afraid that Apple's move to Intel processors made the job of writing viruses for OS X a little bit easier. Intel makes a good processor, their (and AMD's) wild success is the main reason they can be exploited for reasons not dissimilar to the million monkeys at a million typewriters theory. Before you get too upset, let me explain myself: there are just tons of x86 compatible computers out there, and tons of people have the ability to develop software for x86-based machines. Hacking, smashing the stack, overflowing buffers, and all the other nasty tricks are just a small step beyond the scope of typical programming projects, and with the temptation of the Dark Side available to literally millions more developers, more viruses will be written for Intel and compatible architectures.
So, with this in mind, we see that many programmers already know the dirty tricks that work on x86's, and Apple will now be using x86 processors. So those dirty tricks will be arriving on your Mac's doorstep soon.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Every geek that's been around the block once or twice knows that Kismet is the Swiss Army Knife of wireless network auditing tools - not only does it act as a "stumbler," but it can perform brute-force cracks on WEP and WPA encryptions.
I haven't tried it personally as I don't have an Apple laptop (mine's a Toshiba that dual-boots between XP and Red Hat 9.2), but the reading I've done so far indicates that there is limited driver support for Wireless adapters (hmmm, that's why I don't use Kismet on my laptop, I'm too cheap to go out and buy a Prism branded Wifi adapter), but it fully supports the Airport card, and partially supports the Airport Extreme. An added bonus - the above link is to the version that supposedly is made for the Intel-based Macs.
From the creator's site: MacStumbler is a utility to display information about nearby 802.11b and 802.11g wireless access points. It is mainly designed to be a tool to help find access points while traveling, or to diagnose wireless network problems. Additionally, MacStumbler can be used for "wardriving", which involves co-ordinating with a GPS unit while traveling around to help produce a map of all access points in a given area.
Nmap is the most venerable of command-line network scannng tools. Ports are available for Windows, OS X, Linux, and likely for Atari, Comodore, and Amiga systems if you look hard enough. This tool can map networks, and map the open ports on the systems that comprise that network. As if that's not enough, it can enumerate the services running on those ports (banner grabbing), and identify the remote OS through a techniue called "fingerprinting."
Not for the faint of heart (or the feeble-minded), nmap has more options that about any command-line app that I've run across.
Friday, March 24, 2006
This power toy is a Windows 2000/2003/XP compatible ISO recorder and burner. For those of us who don't know what that is, you can probably safely ignore this post. But for the rest of you, this tool does the work of what is sometimes fairly pricey software. It adds several options to the Windows context menu for managing disc images - either creating ISO's from the selecting folders or files, or, if one has right-clicked on an ISO, will provide the ability to burn it to a CD. For Vista users (I guess you're the earliest adopters at the time of this writing, as I've never laid eyes on it), the developer has thoughtfully included DVD burning abilities.
Free Hardware Firewall!
Well, actually, it requires its own PC with at least 2 network adapters (preferably popular name brand units as the choice of drivers is large, but finite), but that PC can be 10 years old! No, really, this is an excellent use for that old desktop computer you've been thinking of giving to Dear Aunt Sophie, she's so smart and persistent, I'm sure she'd love to get on the Internet! But really, you'd love having an IPCop more as it has a built-in firewall, proxy server, and Intrusion Detection System (IDS). It comes as an ISO, so download the afore-mentioned power toy if you're a Windows Weenie (you know who you are). If you're a Mac user, you have to use the Disk Utility app to burn it (don't worry, its easy!). If you're a Linux user, you'll likely know just what to do.
From the beginning, I loved the access to cool statistics about my web usage, the IDS logs tickled me pink, and lastly, there's a zillion add-on modules that can do everything from content filtering to time-based access control. Heck, the content filters even have the ability to update from an open-source blacklist project. Bluecoat systems typically gets $60.00/year for 5 users for that!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Netzup is a frightfully clever app that works remotely, exploiting null connections, IPC$ shares, and the like. It can silently install applications and execute programs. Also, can also enumerate the remote PC's registries and gather a list of installed software for auditing purposes.
Monday, March 20, 2006
More Mac Games!
MacGamesAndMore.com has oodles of freeware games and applications - my faves being Neverball - that venerable old Linux game, and Linium, a new twist on the old game of Jezzball.
Mac Antivirus - ClamXAV
This has a simple GUI, and all of the functionality you need to keep your Mac virus free. Except for automatic scans. And on-access scanning. And automatic updates. Alright, its pretty basic, but compared to other Mac antivirus offerings, this one ROCKS. Oh, and it's free.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
- Tells me who logged onto which computer, when, and when they logged off.
- Tells me if somebody logged on during a time they do not typically log on, or if someone used a computer that they don't normally use.
- Watches a few directories on the server, and lets me know which and when files are accessed, changed, or deleted.
- Is simple enough to use that any Business Office Manager or Facility Admnistrator can use it.
Free Windows Network User Accounting is a PHP-based system that works on any server that has Exchange or Apache (Windows or otherwise!). The downside is that noobs will not necessarily enjoy installing PHP in their servers, which is a requirement to run this app. Next up, one will need a way to run scripts on Windows machines at logon and logoff (Hello Group Policy!). And finally, you will need to figure out how to add a new directory to your internal web server. I spent roughly three hours making this work, but it works great! My one complaint (aside from the difficulty of installation) is that the page takes a noticeable amount of time to render, but that may be due to some misconfiguration on my part, as this was the first PHP server I had set up.
Later, I'll share the FREE installed software auditing apps I've found. One works remotely, and one works locally.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
This web site kinda beat me to the punch and put a lot of great open-source OS X capable applications, including music, web browsing, and a personal favorite - Democracy, which runs on Windows, too. Many of the apps that I am pointing out can also be found here.
The blog, Tao of the Mac, is a bit cerebral for most end-users, but for the techies out there, this guy is good reading.
This site has open source apps for most every platform imaginable - much like Sourceforge, this web site has lots of great multi-platform apps and games. Something for everyone! On the down side, navigating this site can be confusing, and the apps are often very technical in nature.
Friday, March 10, 2006
This handy app extends Windows' contextual menus to include options for creating and opening almost every kind of compressed file you can imagine. Archive types include: .arj, .zip, .tar, .tar.gz, and their very own .ice (fabulous for compressing plain-text files, I found it to be about 300% more effective).
This Win2k/XP/9x tool can reveal passwords hidden behind the stars, dots, and asterisks used by Windows. Invaluable when you forget your Outlook, Outlook Express, and dial-up passwords. I'm sure that it works with a lot of other apps, too.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
This was MS Antispyware. I think I liked the old version better - it seemed a bit more techie, and much more stable. Beta 2 works fine on my laptop computer, but my dekstop gags on it. Admittedly, my laptop is 3 years newer than my dekstop, but they are both running WinXP and the desktop is typically very stable the rest of the time.
This antivirus app is for those of you who aren't computing in a networked, managed environment. Also, it is available for Windows XP and for Linux! Maybe they'll port it over to OS X soon - hint, hint. The pay version has a very nifty central management console (AVGAdmin) that has uses way beyond the typical AV console - such as figuring out which users were using which workstations when.
Windows OneCare Live
Free (for now), and soon to be an incredible deal (3 PC's for $49.95 per year). Thumbs up to the ease of use and comprehensive coverage, thumbs down to the draconian firewall and poor interface and manageability.
A good Microsoft-developed registry cleaner that seems to still work (for the most part, read on, gentle reader), despite the fact that it was made for Windows 95, 98, and NT. I know it still works well in Win2k and XP SP1. XP SP2 had problems and would not run it.
It is best for fixing registry bloat - that is, removing invalid or unnecessary entries. This can speed boots and generally speeds things up. I've also had improvements in stability.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Why am I qualified to accept this mission? Well, I use several PC's with several OS's - among them are Win2K3, Suse, and FreeBSD servers, and Windows XP, Mac OS X, RedHat (well, Fedora, now), and Suse desktops. Additionally, I'm a cheapskate. My friends (figuratively speaking, as I don't really know any of them) that write Open Source and freeware programs provide me with invaluable resources - typically free as in beer, although some of the open-source server offerings are free as in puppies - that I now cannot live without.
My job involves providing my hardware, software, and networking expertise to small healthcare organizations. Most of these groups depend on public funding for their survival, so they typically cannot afford the latest and greatest commercial applications and OS's. Fortunately Open-Source, Freeware, and low-cost alternatives are not only available, they are useable, and often times comparable to the commercially available apps that they mimic. So don't forget to make a donation, either of time (programmers!) or of money (the rest of us!).
Open Source and Freeware Apps - Multiple Platforms
If you can't find your platform on these guys download pages, you're way more geek than I!
IMHO, the premier office suite for the next decade! Cross platform compatibility is only a minor feature when compared to the easy to use, functional applications that come as part of this package from Sun and Friends.
- Writer - Excellent word processor with features and useability rivaling MS Office (any version).
- Calc - Compares well to Excel - again with the MS comparison, but they're unavoidable, aren't they?
- Impress - MS PowerPoint, anyone?
- Base - Similar in form and function to Access. Admittedly, I haven't played much with it, so I'll have to say more on it later.
- Draw - nice buiness drawing system - think Visio
If you use a Windows OS, its become difficult to use Internet Explorer without picking spyware. If you use a Mac, IE is no longer supported. If you use Linux, well, IE is not a consideration. A while back, I found a browser to get excited about, and remain so, no matter which platform I use. All politics and prejudice aside, this is the best browser available.
Firefox has lots of useful (and useless) plugins. Oh, and its searchbar is able to use almost any search engine.
Sadly, this fabulous app is unavailable for anything but Mac OS X (I upgraded to Tiger jut so I could run this) and Windows. Overlooking that, this program is just fun. You are presented with a virtual Earth that can be looked at from every angle. The web site Googlehacks.com has a wonderful collection of fun and informative tools, like near-real time weather maps, and extra maps and plugins.