Jun
23
2009
0

How to Save Your Law Practice Money: Part I

How to stretch your law offices budget

How to stretch your law office's budget

Cost: $0.00

Savings: $150/computer

Here’s an easy way to save your law practice several hundred dollars in the next few months.  The next time you have to purchase a new computer do not buy a copy of MicroSoft Office, MicroSoft Word, or WordPerfect.  Even basic versions of these programs can run several hundred dollars per computer.[1]  You don’t have to purchase these programs!

Try OpenOffice instead!  I have been using OpenOffice on my home and work computers for the last three years and have been extremely happy with it.  I have given copies of this program to family, friends, and colleagues who are also all very happy with it.  I’ve used it for simple correspondence, legal pleadings, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Here are a few “real world” benefits:

OpenOffice is totally 100% free open source software

Free as in free.  Give it to your friends.  Install it at home and on your kids’ computers.  Don’t worry about software piracy.  Its totally, completely, free.

OpenOffice has better document recovery

Its important to know that OpenOffice is much more stable than anything MicroSoft or WordPerfect has to offer.  It is extremely rare that OpenOffice crashes on me.  If you’re using MicroSoft Word and you haven’t saved your document at least once, a single crash will completely erase all of your progress.  The very few times that OpenOffice has crashed on me I have gotten all of my data back – even when I haven’t saved the file once.

OpenOffice has everything you need

OpenOffice has all the features of MicroSoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and WordPerfect.  You can also use the OpenOffice suite of software to open, edit, and save to MicroSoft Word and WordPerfect formats.  It won’t automatically open the MicroSoft Office 2007 formats yet, but you can find plugins and software to do this for you (also for free).  OpenOffice has spell check, grammar check, autocorrect, macros, and templates (even legal pleading templates!).

OpenOffice can do more than its competitors

OpenOffice can save as, open, and even edit a PDF.  Editing a PDF requires a plugin, but it is very easy to install (and also free!).  Just being able to print to a PDF is going to make your documents easier to share with others and, hopefully, one day easier to share with EAMS too.[2][3]

If you’re not convinced to make the leap with your next computer purchase, then download OpenOffice now and give it a shot on your current computer.  Here’s their website link:

Download OpenOffice.org – free word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software

  1. Photo courtesy of Krug6 []
  2. Not that EAMS will share with you. []
  3. Don’t take it personally – EAMS pretty much hates everyone. []
Mar
24
2009
0

Drooling over the Dell Mini 9

New Laptop

New Laptop

Since I reviewed available netbooks about two months back several new options have opened up.[1] There’s the new Samsung NC110[2][3] and a slew of new Acer One’s.

However, none of them can touch the 4GB Dell Mini 9 on sale right now for $199 with Ubuntu.

I know I had earlier said that 8GB was too small for my purposes. I had even suggested that I was more interested in some of the other available netbooks over the Dell for this reason.  However, I want to make my next computer a Dell, true to my word.

The reason I’m considering the 4GB version where I was dismissing the 8GB version before is the incredible price and the purposes to which such a laptop would be put.  In order to do about 98% of what I need with a laptop, I could easily use a netbook.  On any given day I use:

  • Firefox for web browsing
  • Thunderbird for e-mail
  • Pidgin for instant messaging
  • FileZilla for FTP transfers
  • Notepad++ for programming/text editing
  • OpenOffice for word processing, spreadsheets
  • TightVNC for remote access

All of these programs are open source software and available for Ubuntu[4] and Windows.  So, in shopping for a laptop, I really don’t care about which operating system I use.  The 4GB Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu could do all of these things – and for a $199 price tag.  Plus, with the Mini’s SD card slot, I could pop in an extra 16GB of memory for only $26.

  1. Photo courtesy of Ciccio Pizzettaro []
  2. The Samsung NC110 is the successor to the NC10 []
  3. A review of the NC110 I found helpful []
  4. An easy-to-use Liniux installation. []
Nov
13
2008
1

OpenOffice v3.0: Helping with EAMS

MicroSoft has no one to blame but themselves for my deleting MicroSoft Office.  Well, its partly Dell’s fault too, but that’s a long story I’ll tell some other time.  (Short version: Dell repaired a prior laptop and shipped it to a construction site in Oakland.)

Once I tried OpenOffice, I never looked back.  Its my preferred word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, office suite program.  Not only is it better than MicroSoft office in just about every way, but its also completely free.  You might be interested in trying it out because I believe it will help you tremendously with EAMS.

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org released version 3.0 of their program on October 13, 2008.  It was so wildly popular that their website was crushed under the overwhelming demand.  The three most important things to know about OpenOffice are:

  1. Its open source, so its completely free.  So, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
  2. It can open, edit, and save to any MS Office 2000, 2003, 2007, and WordPerfect formats.
  3. It can print or export any file to a PDF.

If you’re a Workers’ Compensation professional in California, you’re probably dealing with EAMS.  Since filing things with EAMS means working with a lot of PDF’s.  In order to keep from reinventing the wheel, it makes sense to save those PDF’s of the document cover sheets.  But what if you need to make a small change later on?  Well, OpenOffice v3.0 can help with that too.

Using an extension ((basically a small program)) OpenOffice can open and edit and re-save a PDF file. Not even Adobe, the company that promotes the PDF format[1] , does a good job of opening and editing PDF’s.

This is a really big deal to me because editing saved PDF’s is going to save me a lot of time editing settlement documents and various pleadings.

Update

I wrote the above about a month ago while I gave OpenOffice 3.0 a shot.  It won’t install on my Vista laptop but works great on my XP desktop.  I’ve reverted to OpenOffice 2.4 on the laptop while I wait for a fix.  OpenOffice 2.4 is still free, but it won’t open MS Office 2007 formats (which not everyone is using anyhow) and cannot edit PDFs.

  1. I know that’s redundant. []

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