Trying to get a bit geeky

I’m avoiding doing a bunch of organizing of my business by thinking about meta-organizing. You know, things like what kind of binders I need to put a business manual in. Or categories for filing.

And one of the big things I have to do is create a new financial tracking system. I had a lot of angst about this a month or so ago. And then just stopped doing anything other than filing business expenses in my filing cabinet. Which is all well and good while I have ONE business. But in June I will have 3: my business, renting this house, a farm. I need spreadsheets.

Nimble computing?

So today, I’m procrastinating about creating spreadsheets by wondering whether I should become MS Office free.

I’ve already downloaded Open Office. Mostly because it can export word processing documents to PDF without losing things like hyper-links. I needed that when I did my e-book.

Lisa Firke has had an interesting series of post about moving to a more nimble set-up. Her motivation is coveting a MacBook Air. But I think there are some important things about the project in general.

Like me, Lisa is a Mac user. She’s probably achieved geek level 10 or something, though, and knows a lot more about these things. (She designs websites for a living.) But she’s talking about using iWork instead of Office.

Considering iWork

So I poked around in my applications folder and there it is. As soon as I open it, it tells me there is a new version, but what the heck. So I’m looking at it. And it seems like it’ll save documents as PDF (with hyperlinks intact, and hyperlinks for TOC entries), which is important.

Looks like it’ll also export to Word format, which is handy for sharing documents in a world where MS Office is hegemonic. (I’m thinking you can figure out what hegemonic means from the context. Expand your vocabulary day!)

There doesn’t seem to be a spreadsheet app, but the tables in the word processing app (Pages) can use formulas. (Why do I instinctively use Latin plurals?) And it makes charts from tables.

I’m not an advanced Excel user by any means and my needs are pretty simple on the spreadsheet front. So maybe that works. And might even be easier to print out in useful ways. Excel is a PITA when it comes to printing stuff out.

Benefits of nimbleness

So, apart from a general tendency to resist hegemonic forces,  why go this route?  Lisa’s comments about the loss of hard drive space, processor speed etc in her laptop shift (she bought the Air) made me think about the fact that hardware upgrades are mostly about those things. I’d like to keep using the machine I have for as long as possible. Better for the environment as well as the budget.

I think I bought this machine in ’06 (the version of iWork I have is ’06). It is a desktop iMac, one of the ones with a flat screen with all the gubbins in the screen. Since I had my previous one from 1998, I think it’s got a good few years left in it.

So I’m thinking that if I get rid of stuff I don’t need, like duplicate word processing software, I’ve got more space for the stuff I use.

Living laptop free

My other thing is that I don’t have a laptop. And I don’t really want one. Another thing to carry around.

I have found that I rarely need one. I don’t travel much for work, and when I do I bring my presentation on a memory stick and ask the client to provide a machine hooked up to a projector. This avoids me working out how to get a Mac laptop to work on their system. It means everything is set up when I arrive. And there is usually a tech person onsite to deal with any issues.

My business trips aren’t that long. And I’m working with clients all day. Either I don’t check e-mail or I use the free computer at the hotel.

When we went to Europe we took laptops (Mat uses one as his main home machine; Tigger has his old one) but that kind of trip doesn’t happen that often.

With the move to the country, I’m wondering if I will want to do work away from home. And what kind. The library computers aren’t too busy in the middle of the day, so that might be an option. And we are planning on finally breaking down and getting cell-phones, so I’m wondering about a Blackberry or something.

One of my friends uses her Blackberry a lot for dealing with e-mail while waiting at piano lessons or whatever. I don’t feel that is a need right now, but when I’m driving further and doing more kid-stuff on those days, maybe. Or will I just schedule my time differently. Segregate bits of my life more?

Cloud computing

I’ve come across this term but don’t understand it very well. I am using a bunch of web apps for my business. And my new e-mail came with a file folder thingamy that lets me drop documents and retrieve them when I’m somewhere else.

This makes me think that I could make good use of library computers. Or a friend’s computer while kids are doing whatever.

Does this impact the decision about wordprocessing apps? Or does it just mean that I do some things at home and other things elsewhere?

Your thoughts

This feels pretty vague and unresolved for me. So any thoughts more than welcome. Mac apps you really like. Experiences with cloud computing. Open Office vs. iWork

Help me procrastinate about the spreadsheets!

4 thoughts on “Trying to get a bit geeky

  1. Cloud computing is a trendy term, I find. Some relevant things for you that it applies to would be hosting your docs in google docs (the cloud) so you can access them everywhere.


  2. no exciting geeky advice but my sis has an itouch and likes it cause she can check email and stuff with the monkeys at class and such, it’s not a phone but a fun toy if there is wireless access where ever you are.


  3. Many in the world would be laughing to think that I am attempting to share computing advice, but I hope you will appreciate the perspective of a non-techno small business owner!
    I was turned onto open office about a year ago, and I really love it. I have both OO and MS on my computer, and I tend to use them interchangebly with general success. (I find MS is easier when cutting and pasting info with graphics from the internet, but otherwise I use OO.) When I set up the co-op books, I went with a simple excel spreadsheet,for the lack of ease and familiarity. I have very few categories of income and expense, so a spreadsheet is quite easy. We have one for income (as I have rolling payment accounts) and one of expenditures, and keep the balance with the checkbook. The hardest part is the day you set it up, making sure the formulas all add up! My accountant had no problem with it either.
    We had Quickbooks for my DH business, and I could run a second from it, but I chose not to the first year. It seems a lot of extra work, as I do not want to have to wait to print every reimbursment,etc from home to make sure accounts stay current. I’d skip that, if you can.
    I got a laptop over a year ago, and I have to say, I just can’t seem to use it as a laptop. It has too much critical information to cart all over (and fear dropping or theft. So it sits on my desk, just like a desktop, other than an occasional use out on the patio on a nice day. One regret I have is that I have heard laptops are designed to have a shorter working life than desktops, so again, unless you need it to travel, I would stick with a desktop.


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